Meet the mercury team!

The onboard time from left to right, Gemma (team Iron), Liam, Jared, Sonja, Kayla, Suzanne, Lide, Casper, and David

From the South African weather service: Casper Labuschagne, Lynwill Martin,

From the Stellenbosch Campus: Susanne Fietz, Lide Jansen van Vuuren, Kayla Buchanan, Liam Quinlan, Jared Tanner

Marseille: Lars-Eric Heimbürger-Boavida, Natalia Torres-Rodriguez, Vincent Fauvelle, Subhadeep Chowdhury

Hereon: Johannes Bieser, Corinna Schrum, David Amptmeijer

Stockholm University: Sofi Jonsson, Sonja Gindorf

David and Sonja decided to trade in their European summer for an Antarctic winter to investigate mercury concentrations and speciation in the Southern Ocean. They joined the South African SCALE 2022 cruise to the Antarctic on board the S.A. Agalhus II, as their secondment to MIO. Under the supervision of Lars-Eric Heimbürger-Boavida, who has a collaboration through the PROTEA project with Susanne Fietz in South Africa, they boarded the icebreaker on the 11th of July. The adventurous journey led them from Cape Town to the marginal ice zone of the Antarctic. The Southern Ocean was characterized by its winter-typical stormlike 10 m waves causing a fair share of the scientific crew to become seasick. Throughout the cruise, the mercury team took over 500 samples for mercury speciation in the water column, pancake ice, snow, and slush-like frazil ice. In addition, the South African weather service continuously measured atmospheric mercury throughout the expedition. On top of this, samples for persistent organic pollutants and the genes relevant for mercury (de-) methylation were sampled from different water and ice stations. We hope that the sum of this data will help us gain a basic understanding of mercury speciation and distribution in the Southern Ocean in winter. This data will be unique as wintertime mercury concentrations are thus far unknown, in this region.

Upon re-arrival on the African continent, they were invited by the African weather service to visit the Cape Point, South Africa – Global Monitoring Laboratory. During this drive, we discussed the differences and similarities between atmospheric mercury in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. On top of the academic discussion, there was of course time to enjoy wild Ostriches, Elands, and some local delicacies.

The samples are shipped to Marseille where the analyses will happen. It will take some time before all the results are finalized but we are looking forward to sharing them with you.