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Trans-Himalayan Transport of Organochlorine Compounds: Three-Year Observations and Model-Based Flux Estimation

Gong, Ping, Wang, Xiaoping, Pokhrel, Balram, Wang, Hailong, Liu, Xiande, Liu, Xiaobo, Wania, Frank
Environmental science & technology 2019 v.53 no.12 pp. 6773-6783
altitude, atmospheric deposition, convection, environmental fate, leaves, lowlands, models, mountains, organochlorine compounds, persistent organic pollutants, rain, soil, valleys, China, Himalayan region
High mountains can trap semivolatile chemicals, such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and hinder their dispersion. However, both deep convection and mountain valleys can facilitate POPs’ transport over mountains, which have not been investigated before. In this study, a three-year sampling campaign along a south-north altitudinal transect (100–5200m) across the central Himalayas, coupled with a multicompartment contaminant fate model, was conducted for describing the transport processes of POPs. The results show that POPs emitted in the lowlands of the Himalayas can be transported to high altitudes and further to the inner part of the Tibetan Plateau. Modeling suggests that more than 90% of POPs are trapped along the way due to gaseous deposition to soil/foliage and rainfall scavenging; while 2 × 10–³ to 1 × 10–¹ Giga-grams/year of POPs are transported across the Himalayas. The transport flux along valleys is 2–3 times higher than that across the mountain ridge. However, due to the limited spatial coverage of mountain valleys, the amount of POPs transported through valleys only accounts for a small part of the total transport. This study shows that POPs can overcome the blocking effect of the Himalayas, and high altitude transport across the mountain ridge is the dominant transport pathway.