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Current Status of IPY INCATPA Project

By Hayley Hung, INCATPA

The IPY INCATPA (INterContinental Atmospheric Transport of Anthropogenic Pollutants to the Arctic) project has completed its first results workshop, held in Toronto, Canada, from September 31 - October 2, 2008. The workshop was attended by 34 participants and partners including international collaborators from China, Vietnam, Russia, U.S. and U.K.

Presentations, discussions and activities during the 3-day workshop focused on current status of sampling activities, challenges and strategies for the next several months. Timelines were built for data submission and QA/QC. Achievements that were highlighted at the workshop included:

Air sampling activities for persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and mercury (Hg) have been initiated at: Little Fox Lake, Yukon (POPs and Hg); Valkarkai, Russia (POPs); Dillingham and Fairbanks, Alaska (POPs); Barrow, Alaska (Hg); Waliguan, Wudalianchi and Xuencheng, China (POPs); Mt. Changbai, China (Hg); and Ba Vi, Vietnam (POPs and Hg). Training and installation visits were conducted by EC scientists and technicians at Little Fox Lake, Barrow, Waliguan, Wudalianchi, Xuencheng and Ba Vi to ensure air sampling and analysis were conducted according to Environment Canada (EC) guidelines and standards.

The initiation of a multi-national QA/QC program for atmospheric trace organics analysis that will include 25 participating laboratories. This will help to ensure consistency and comparability of reported results within and outside of INCAPTA.

Multi-station simultaneous 14-day consecutive air measurements of POPs have been conducted at the Yukon station of Little Fox Lake, 2 Alaskan, 1 Vietnamese and 3 Chinese stations in fall 2008; in an attempt to trace pollutant input into the Western Arctic. A similar pilot study was conducted in the summer of 2007 with 2 stations, namely Little Fox Lake and Wudalianchi (China). Samples are currently under analysis.

Two EC-developed global atmospheric transport models, the Canadian Model for Environmental Transport of Organochlorine Pesticides (CanMETOP) and the Multicompartment Environmental DIagnosis and Assessment (MEDIA) model, were used to quantify the impact of intercontinental atmospheric transport and climate variability on the fate of POPs in the Arctic. European sources were identified as the major influence on atmospheric level of lindane over the high Arctic, followed by Asia and North America. Using a new interpretation on global distillation, episodic long-range atmospheric transport (LRAT) events to the high Arctic in the 3-dimensional atmosphere have been successfully simulated. In addition, results have shown lower springtime air concentrations of POPs in the high Arctic during El Nino events and vice versa during La Nina events.

Canadian Global/Regional Atmospheric Heavy Metals Model (GRAHM) was used to analyze the LRAT of mercury to the Arctic particularly over the Pacific Ocean. Past and recent ambient mercury measurement datasets from several sites along the western edge of North America and the Arctic were analyzed using GRAHM, showing LRAT of mercury from Asia as the dominant influence of concentrations in this region. Little Fox Lake, Yukon, was found to be most suitable for detecting LRAT episodes of mercury from Asia; since it is least impacted by local, regional and other significant global sources and atmospheric chemistry of mercury. Detectable differences were found among the INCATPA sites showing the influence of different source regions in relations to atmospheric transport pathways. As part of our outreach activities, the INCATPA project is featured in a youth- generated exhibit titled

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