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Radionuclides in ornithogenic sediments as evidence for recent warming in the Ross Sea region, Antarctica

Nie, Yaguang, Xu, Liqiang, Liu, Xiaodong, Emslie, Steven D.
The Science of the total environment 2016 v.557-558 pp. 248-256
cesium, environmental indicators, global warming, models, radionuclides, runoff, sediments, Antarctica, McMurdo Sound
Radionuclides including 210Pb, 226Ra and 137Cs were analyzed in eight ornithogenic sediment profiles from McMurdo Sound, Ross Sea region, East Antarctica. Equilibration between 210Pb and 226Ra were reached in all eight profiles, enabling the determination of chronology within the past two centuries through the Constant Rate of Supply (CRS) model. Calculated fluxes of both 210Pb and 137Cs varied drastically among four of the profiles (MB4, MB6, CC and CL2), probably due to differences in their sedimentary environments. In addition, we found the flux data exhibiting a clear decreasing gradient in accordance with their average deposition rate, which was in turn related to the specific location of the profiles. We believe this phenomenon may correspond to global warming of the last century, since warming-induced surface runoff would bring more inflow water and detritus to the coring sites, thus enhancing the difference among the profiles. To verify this hypothesis, the deposition rate against age of the sediments was calculated based on their determined chronology, which showed ascending trends in all four profiles. The significant increase in deposition rates over the last century is probably attributable to recent warming, implying a potential utilization of radionuclides as environmental indicators in this region.