Characterization of atmospheric trace elements in the Puruogangri ice core: a preliminary account of Tibetan Plateau environmental and contamination histories

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Emilie Beaudon1, Paolo Gabrielli2, Roxana Sierra Hernandez1, Anna Wegner3 and Lonnie G Thompson4, (1)Byrd Polar Research Center, Columbus, OH, United States, (2)The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, United States, (3)Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz-Center for Polar and Marine Research Bremerhaven, Bremerhaven, Germany, (4)Ohio State University Main Campus, Columbus, OH, United States
Asia is facing enormous challenges including large-scale environmental changes, rapid population growth and industrialization. The inherent generated pollution contributes to half of all Earth’s anthropogenic trace metals emissions that, when deposited to glaciers of the surrounding mountains of the Third Pole region, leave a characteristic chemical fingerprint. Records of past atmospheric deposition preserved in snow and ice from Third Pole glaciers provide unique insights into changes of the chemical composition of the atmosphere and into the nature and intensity of the regional atmospheric circulation systems. The determination of the elemental composition of aeolian dust stored in Himalayan and Tibetan Plateau glaciers can help to qualify the potential contamination of glacial meltwater as a part of the greater fresh Asian water source. The 215 m long Puruogangri ice core retrieved in 2000 at 6500 m a.s.l. in central Tibetan Plateau (Western Tanggula Shan, China) provides one of the first multi-millennium-long environmental archives (spanning the last 7000 years and annually resolved for the last 400 years) obtained from the Tibetan Plateau region. The Puruogangri’s area is climatologically of particular interest because of its location at the boundary between the monsoon (wet) and the westerly (dry) dominated atmospheric circulation. The major objective of this study is to determine the concentration of trace and ultra-trace elements in the Puruogangri ice core between 1600 and 2000 AD in order to characterize the atmospheric aerosols entrapped in the ice. Particular attention is given to assess the amount of trace elements originating from anthropogenic sources during both the pre-industrial and industrial periods. The distinction between the anthropogenic contribution and the crustal background may rely on the precise decoupling of the dry and wet seasons signals, the former being largely influenced by dust contribution.