Anthropogenic disturbance of element cycles at the Earth’s surface
MetadataShow full item record
The extent to which humans are modifying Earth’s surface chemistry can be quantified by comparing total anthropogenic element fluxes with their natural counterparts (Klee & Graedel, 2004). We quantify anthropogenic mass transfer of 77 elements from mining, fossil fuel burning, biomass burning, construction activities, and human apportionment of terrestrial net primary productivity, and compare it to natural mass transfer from terrestrial and marine net primary productivity, riverine dissolved and suspended matter fluxes to the ocean, soil erosion, eolian dust, sea-salt spray, cosmic dust, volcanic emissions and – for helium – hydrodynamic escape from the Earth’s atmosphere. We introduce an approach to correct for losses during industrial processing of elements belonging to geochemically coherent groups, and explicitly incorporate uncertainties of element mass fluxes through Monte Carlo simulations. We find that at the Earth’s surface anthropogenic fluxes of iridium, osmium, helium, gold, ruthenium, antimony, platinum, palladium, rhenium, rhodium and chromium currently exceed natural fluxes. For these elements mining is the major factor of anthropogenic influence, whereas petroleum burning strongly influences the surficial cycle of rhenium. Our assessment indicates that if anthropogenic contributions to soil erosion and eolian dust are considered, anthropogenic fluxes of up to 62 elements surpass their corresponding natural fluxes.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2012. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of American Chemical Society for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Environmental Science & Technology 46 (2012): 8601–8609, doi:10.1021/es301261x.
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Using present-day observations to detect when anthropogenic change forces surface ocean carbonate chemistry outside preindustrial bounds Sutton, Adrienne J.; Sabine, Chris L.; Feely, Richard A.; Cai, Wei-Jun; Cronin, Meghan F.; McPhaden, Michael; Morell, Julio M.; Newton, Jan A.; Noh, Jae Hoon; Ólafsdóttir, Sólveig R.; Salisbury, Joseph E.; Send, Uwe; Vandemark, Douglas; Weller, Robert A. (Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union, 2016-09-13)One of the major challenges to assessing the impact of ocean acidification on marine life is detecting and interpreting long-term change in the context of natural variability. This study addresses this need through a global ...
Giosan, Liviu; Coolen, Marco J. L.; Kaplan, Jed O.; Constantinescu, Stefan; Filip, Florin; Filipova-Marinova, Mariana; Kettner, Albert J.; Thom, Nick (Nature Publishing Group, 2012-08-30)Over the last century humans have altered the export of fluvial materials leading to significant changes in morphology, chemistry, and biology of the coastal ocean. Here we present sedimentary, paleoenvironmental and ...
Chu, Sophie N.; Wang, Zhaohui Aleck; Doney, Scott C.; Lawson, Gareth L.; Hoering, Katherine A. (John Wiley & Sons, 2016-07-02)In order to understand the ocean's role as a sink for anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2), it is important to quantify changes in the amount of anthropogenic CO2 stored in the ocean interior over time. From August to September ...