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Method for Correcting Continuous Ice-Core Elemental Measurements for Under-Recovery

Arienzo, Monica M., McConnell, Joseph R., Chellman, Nathan, Kipfstuhl, Sepp
Environmental science & technology 2019 v.53 no.10 pp. 5887-5894
acidification, aerosols, aluminum, cadmium, calcium, ice, iron, magnesium, manganese, particulates, snowmelt, sodium, strontium, Antarctica, Greenland
Measurement of elemental concentrations in ice cores are critical for determining atmospheric aerosol variations. For such measurements, acidified ice-core meltwater typically is analyzed continuously (<5 min after acidification) or discretely (∼3 months after acidification). The reduced acidification time during continuous analysis may result in a measured elemental concentration that is lower than the concentration of discrete analysis if particulates are not fully dissolved. To evaluate this, sections of three ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica were measured both continuously (4.5 min after acidification) and discretely (repeatedly from 1 to 151 days after continuous measurements), with discrete samples collected from the meltwater sample stream prior to continuous measurement. We show that elements such as Na, Sr, and S dissolved readily and therefore were fully recovered during continuous measurements. Average recovery for other elements was between 70 to 100% for Cd, Gd, Mg, Mn, U, and Yb, 50 to 90% for Ca, Ce, Sm, and V, and less than 50% for Al, Fe, and La. Given the advantages of continuous measurements, we conclude that the preferred method for ice-core measurements is continuous analysis with simultaneous discrete sample collection, followed by adjustment of the continuous measurements based on discrete sample analysis at least 3 months after acidification.