Glacier-Derived Particles as a Regional Control on Marine Dissolved Pb Concentrations

Jana Krause, Xunchi Zhu, Juan Höfer, Eric P. Achterberg, Anja Engel, Lorenz Meire, Alice E. Stuart-Lee, Mark J. Hopwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Higher than expected concentrations of dissolved lead (dPb) have been consistently observed along glaciated coastlines and it is widely hypothesized that there is a net release of dPb from glacier-derived sediments. Here we further corroborate that dPb concentrations in diverse locations around west Greenland (3.2–252 pM) and the Western Antarctic Peninsula (7.7–107 pM) appear to be generally higher than can be explained by addition of dPb from glacier-derived freshwater. The distribution of dPb across the salinity gradient is unlike any other commonly studied trace element (e.g., Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Mn, and Al) implying a dynamic, reversible exchange between dissolved and labile particulate Pb. Incubating a selection of glacier-derived particles from SW Greenland (Ameralik and Nuup Kangerlua) and Svalbard (Kongsfjorden), with a range of labile particulate Pb (LpPb) content (11–113 nmol g−1), the equivalent of 2–46% LpPb was released as dPb within 24 hr of addition to Atlantic seawater. Over longer time periods, the majority of this dPb was typically readsorbed. Sediment loading was the dominant factor influencing the net release of dPb into seawater, with a pronounced decline in net dPb release efficiency when sediment load increased from 20 to 500 mg L−1. Yet temperature also had some effect with 68 ± 22% higher dPb release at 11°C compared to 4°C. Future regional changes in dPb dynamics may therefore be more sensitive to short-term suspended sediment dynamics, and potentially temperature changes, than to changing interannual runoff volume.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2023JG007514
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • Greenland
  • glacial rock flour
  • lead
  • ocean
  • particles


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