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.
Suggested CitationPreprint: Sen, Indra S., Peucker-Ehrenbrink, Bernhard, "Anthropogenic disturbance of element cycles at the Earth’s surface", 2012-07, https://doi.org/10.1021/es301261x, https://hdl.handle.net/1912/8545
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
The coastal impact of ground water discharge : an assesment of anthropogenic nitrogen loading in Town Cove, Orleans, Massachusetts Teal, John M. (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 1983-11-14)The shores of Town Cove have been settled for three centuries. As for most of Cape Cod, small, sparsely populated farming and fishing villages of the eighteenth century have given way to a substantial population of ...
Desert dust and anthropogenic aerosol interactions in the Community Climate System Model coupled-carbon-climate model Mahowald, Natalie M.; Lindsay, Keith; Rothenberg, D.; Doney, Scott C.; Moore, J. Keith; Thornton, Peter E.; Randerson, James T.; Jones, C. D. (Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union, 2011-02-15)Coupled-carbon-climate simulations are an essential tool for predicting the impact of human activity onto the climate and biogeochemistry. Here we incorporate prognostic desert dust and anthropogenic aerosols into the ...
Acoustic playback experiments to study behavioral responses of free-ranging marine animals to anthropogenic sound Tyack, Peter L. (Inter-Research, 2009-12-03)Growing concern about the effects of anthropogenic sound on marine life has highlighted the need for empirical methods to study behavioral responses of marine animals to specific acoustic exposures. Some effects have been ...