Fluxes of Mercury from the Arctic Ice Surface during Polar Sunrise Conditions and Melt Conditions

Updated 2000-06-08

The objectives of this project are: A) to determine the pathway for the transfer of mercury in snowmelt to sea water during the melt period at Alert; B) to determine the extent of open water and wet ice in the summer Arctic as it affects the surface exchange of Hg using satellite radar imagery; and C) to determine the atmospheric dynamics associated with the photochemistry of mercury episodically during the polar sunrise period.

This is a National Implementation Plan (NIP) project
Comments and additional information:

Arctic surface concentrations of trace metals and some inorganic gases can be traced to long-range transport (LRT) and diffusion across the stable atmospheric boundary layer. It is important to understand this vertical exchange process in order to properly model the delivery of LRT pollutants to the Arctic as well as aspects of the atmospheric chemistry.

Time frame

Project time span
2000 - 2003
Data collection
2000 - 2003
Data processing
2000 - 2003
Data reporting
2001 - 2003

Contact information

Contact person
Bryan R. Kerman
Meteorological Service of Canada, Canada Centre for Inland Waters, 867 Lakeshore Road, Burlington, Ontario, Canada L7R 4A6
+1 905 336 4798
+1 905 336 4797

Parameters and Media

Parameter groups measured/observed/modelled
Heavy metals
Media sampled/studied/modelled
Algae (algae, phytoplankton)
Seawater/suspended particulate matter
Additional information or further specification of types of data / information collected, species / tissues / organs sampled, etc.

Heavy metal: mercury Other parameter groups: gas and heat transfer, melt process Other media: melt water


Regions studied
Heavy metals
Heavy metals
Other areas
- Alert, Nunavut 2000 to 2003 - characterizing the atmospheric boundary layer using an acoustic sounder to collect statistics on boundary layer growth and behaviour; - Resolute, Nunavut 2000 to 2002 - monitoring the melt chemically by measuring mercury in air, snow, melt water, sea ice, sea water, algae and plankton; - McDougall Sound, Nunavut 2000 to 2002 - monitoring the melt physically by studying radar scattering from snow and ice to detect the wetting of the ice surface.

Data availability

Are data archived or planned to be archived at an AMAP Thematic Data Centre?
If no (or only part of data are reported to a TDC), where and how are (other) data stored?
Acoustic sounding data from Alert will be made available to the public on a web page in the second tear (2001/2) of this project, six months after the data is collected. Also, the data will be provided upon request to the relevant AMAP assessment chapter authors/drafters, assuming a similar data ownership agreement will be adopted for the second AMAP assessment as was used for the first.
References to key publications (or planned publications) and data reports
Kerman, B.R. 2000. Least cost paths through sea ice using SAR imagery. J. Cold Regions Sci. Tech. Submitted spring 2000. Kerman, B.R. 1999. Information states in radar imagery of sea ice. IEEE Trans. Geosci. Remote Sensing. 37(3), 1435-1446. Kerman, B.R. 1984. A model of interfacial gas transfer for a well-roughened sea. J. Geophys. Res. 89, 1439-1446. Kerman, B.R. 1974. An energy budget for waves and turbulence within an inversion. Boundary Layer Met. 6, 443-458.
Samples/specimens archived in specimen banks?

Methods & Procedures

Procedures and methodology used for, e.g., sampling and sample storage, sample pretreatment, extraction and analysis, including which laboratories are involved, references to methods employed, etc.

Acoustic sounder data (boundary layer height, degree of thermal and humidity variability, wind speed through layer) will be regularly archived at MSC/CCIW. In conjunction with other project team members, analyses will be conducted to correlate the atmospheric boundary layer structure to the surface concentrations of mercury, carbon dioxide and ozone. Water samples obtained using the Sampling Protocols will be shipped to CCIW where they will be further preserved by the addition of 0.1 M bromine monochloride (BrCl) to give a final concentration of 0.05 % BrCl on top of the 0.2 % HCl added in the field. The samples are allowed to sit at room temperature for approximately 1 week. The BrCl preservative is a very powerful oxidant and it has been well established that all forms of mercury (such as particulate, organic, and elemental) are converted to ionic Hg(2+) by this simple cold digestion BrCl procedure. Samples are then analyzed using a flow injection cold vapor atomic fluorescence spectrometric system. Approximately 40 mL aliquots of sample water are pumped into a continuous flow system incorporating acidified stannous chloride reduction which reduces the ionic Hg(2+) to elemental mercury which is then purged out of solution and detected by atomic fluorescence (Tekran 2500 CVAFS). The detection limit of the system, based on 3 x s.d. of 10 blanks, is 0.05 pg/mL. Calibration curves are generated before each sample run and standard reference materials are also run before and after samples to test the calibration curves and the drift characteristics of the analytical system. To assure high quality results and in addition to the in-house quality assurance outlined or implied above, the CCIW laboratory will be a participant in any relevant NCP interlab study. Various sources of SAR satellite imagery have been arranged: Radarsat and ERS-2 in conjunction with the C-ICE team and through the CIS. NASA Goddard expects, but cannot confirm immediately, that it will receive, process and forward appropriate microwave radiometer imagery and statistics of the Archipelago and Alert areas during the melt process. Image processing involving the determination of relative extent of open water and wet surface will be carried out at MSC/CCIW.

QA/QC Information (what QA/QC procedures are implemented, laboratories involvment in QA/QC activities, model verification/validation routines, etc.)

As part of Canada's Northern Contaminants Program (NCP), the laboratories at CCIW participate in the NCP QA/AC program. QA/QC procedures are detailed above with methods.

Additional Information

Is this a bi- AND multi-lateral project (i.e. a project involving cooperation between different countries)?
Is this project reporting to other organizations/programmes?

- Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Northern Contaminants Program; - Environment Canada, Canada's federal environmental agency

Other related projects

"Mercury Measurements at Alert" Bill Schroeder, Meteorological Service of Canada

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