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Journal Article 
Release of legacy pollutants from melting glaciers: Model evidence and conceptual understanding 
Bogdal, C; Nikolic, D; Lüthi, MP; Schenker, U; Scheringer, M; Hungerbühler, K 
Environmental Science & Technology
ISSN: 0013-936X
EISSN: 1520-5851 
Recently, increasing concentrations of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) have been observed in the sediment of glacier-fed Lake Oberaar, Switzerland. Melting glaciers have been suggested as a secondary source of POPs released to Alpine lakes. Here we further investigate whether climate warming may accelerate the release of POPs previously deposited to Alpine glaciers ("glacier hypothesis"). To test this hypothesis, a dynamic multimedia mass balance model is developed for the catchment area of Lake Oberaar and is applied to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs), and dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane (DDT). This lake model is combined with two other models. The first is a dynamic multimedia mass balance model parametrized for the Swiss lowlands that is used to calculate (on the basis of historical emission data) the atmospheric concentrations that are an advective input into the model of the lake catchment. The second is a flow model of Oberaar Glacier that determines the residence time of persistent chemicals in the glacier after their deposition to the glacier surface. According to results from these three models in combination, the release of POPs by the glacier is currently increasing and accounts for the observed increase in concentrations in the lake sediment. The models indicate that approximately half of the amount of PCBs, PCDD/Fs, and DDT initially incorporated into the glacier ice is still stored in the glacier. Under the assumption that the climate is warming, accelerated release of POPs is to be expected for the future; in a model run where no climate warming is assumed, the period of time required for release of the same amount of chemicals is longer by several decades than in the scenario with a changing climate. 
Environmental Studies; Environmental science; Glaciers; Pollutants; Sediments; Global warming; Chemical compounds; Environmental impact; Switzerland 
• PCBs
          LitSearch August 2015