We report a synchronous increase in accumulation of reduced inorganic sulfur since c. 1980 in sediment cores from eight of nine lakes studied in the Canadian Arctic and Svalbard (Norway). Sediment incubations and detailed analyses of sediment profiles from two of the lakes indicate that increases in sulfur accumulation may be due ultimately to a changing climate. Warming-induced lengthening of the ice-free season is resulting in well-documented increases in algal production and sedimentation of the resulting detrital matter. Algal detritus is a rich source of labile carbon, which in these sediments stimulates dissimilatory sulfate reduction. The sulfide produced is stored in sediment (as acid volatile sulfide), converted to other forms of sulfur, or reoxidized to sulfate and lost to the water column. An acceleration of the sulfur cycle in Arctic lakes could have profound effects on important biogeochemical processes, such as carbon burial and mercury methylation.
Environmental Science and Technology, 2010, Vol 44, p. 8415-8421