N. Chellman, A. Csank, M.S. Gustin, et.al. 2020, Comparison of co-located ice-core and tree-ring mercury records indicates potential radial translocation of mercury in whitebark pine, Science of The Total Environment Volume 743, 15

Tree-ring records are a potential archive for reconstructing long-term historical trends in atmospheric mercury (Hg) concentrations. Although Hg preserved in tree rings has been shown to be derived largely from the atmosphere, quantitative relationships linking atmospheric concentrations to those in tree rings are limited. In addition, few tree-ring-based Hg records have been evaluated against co-located proxies of atmospheric Hg deposition or direct atmospheric measurements. Here we develop long-term Hg records extending from 1800 to 2018 CE using cores collected from two stands of whitebark pine located near the Upper Fremont Glacier in the Wind River Range, Wyoming, where a long-term record of atmospheric Hg deposition previously was developed from an ice core. The tree ring record showed that Hg concentrations increased beginning in 1800 CE to a broad peak centered at ~1960 CE, before decreasing to present, generally paralleling the ice-core record of Hg deposition. The exact timing and magnitude of the Hg increases in the trees, however, is offset earlier relative to the ice-core record. These discrepancies potentially arise from biotic processes that impact Hg uptake and preservation in whitebark pine, and results from an advection-diffusion model indicate that the temporal differences are consistent with radial movement of Hg within the trees. The forms of atmospheric Hg and seasonality may also impact the Hg record preserved by each archive, but are less likely to affect long-term trends. Further work is needed to assess radial Hg translocation in more controlled studies with larger sample sizes.

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