The ratio of MSA to non-sea-salt sulphate in Antarctic Peninsula ice cores
Methane sulphonic acid (MSA) in an ice core from Dolleman Island (70°35′S, 60°56′W) shows significantly high concentrations (typically 1-2 µm, but up to 5 µm) compared to values recorded in ice cores and in snowfall from elsewhere in Antarctica. MSA data from two other higher altitude Antarctic Peninsula ice cores, Dyer Plateau (70°31′S, 65°01′W) and Gomez Nunatak (74°01′S, 70°38′W), show that the high concentrations measured at Dolleman Island are not representative of the Peninsula region as a whole. However the mean molar MSA/nss-SO42− ratios at the three sites are similar (Dolleman Is, 0.46; Gomez, 0.37; Dyer, 0.32). Exceptionally high concentrations observed at Dolleman Island may be related to its proximity to the biologically productive Weddell Sea, an important source of dimethyl sulphide (DMS), the precursor of MSA. The MSA data from this site are further unusual in that in deeper sections of this core they demonstrate a well defined seasonal maximum in winter rather than in summer and are out of phase with non sea-salt sulphate, another product of the decomposition of DMS. In contrast, in a near-surface section, MSA variations are in phase with non sea-salt sulphate, with a maximum concentration in the summer layer. A change in the season of deposition of MSA from winter to summer in the recent past is not considered likely. An alternative explanation is that there has been a relocation of the MSA from summer to winter layers during burial.
Authors: Mulvaney, Robert, Pasteur, Elizabeth C., Peel, David C., Saltzman, Eric S., Whung, Pai-Yei