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Reconstruction of European Air Pollution from Alpine Ice Cores

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Part of the Developments in Paleoenvironmental Research book series (DPER,volume 9)

Conclusion

Paleo records from Alpine glaciers allow the reconstruction of European atmospheric pollution history. These records show a generally consistent picture of a vastly altered atmospheric composition due to anthropogenic emissions. Typically following the onset of industrialization, increased concentrations of major aerosol components (e.g. SO42−, NO3, NH4+, black and elemental carbon), trace constituents (e.g. Pb and other heavy metals), gaseous species (including the greenhouse gas methane), and radionuclides (3H, 137Cs, 36Cl, and 129I) were observed in the ice cores. However, on a positive note, Alpine glaciers are also a reliable indicator of the progress achieved in environmental protection. Since approximately 1970, many of the pollutants mentioned here show a clear tendency to lower concentrations, which is a direct result of various air quality measures such as the use of filtering units in power plants, in incineration plants and in industry, the increased use of oils with low sulfur content, as well as the introduction of catalytic converters and lead-free gasoline.

Keywords

  • Black Carbon
  • Elemental Carbon
  • Mineral Dust
  • Alpine Glacier
  • Elemental Carbon Concentration

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Schwikowski, M. (2004). Reconstruction of European Air Pollution from Alpine Ice Cores. In: DeWayne Cecil, L., Green, J.R., Thompson, L.G. (eds) Earth Paleoenvironments: Records Preserved in Mid- and Low-Latitude Glaciers. Developments in Paleoenvironmental Research, vol 9. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/1-4020-2146-1_6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/1-4020-2146-1_6

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