Climate change and mercury in the Arctic


Climate change and mercury in the Arctic

The dispersion of mercury in the environment is a very serious and serious problem, because in addition to causing damage to ecosystems, it also enters the food chain. And this dispersion involves many countries across the globe, even the most remote ones, such as the Arctic.

This is explained by a research, entitled Climate change and mercury in the Arctic: Biotic interactions, and published on the The Science of the total environment. The researchers told: "Global climate change has led to profound alterations of the Arctic environment and ecosystems, with potential secondary effects on mercury (Hg) within Arctic biota.

This review presents the current scientific evidence for impacts of direct physical climate change and indirect ecosystem change on Hg exposure and accumulation in Arctic terrestrial, freshwater, and marine organisms. As the marine environment is elevated in Hg compared to the terrestrial environment, terrestrial herbivores that now exploit coastal/marine foods when terrestrial plants are iced over may be exposed to higher Hg concentrations.

Conversely, certain populations of predators, including Arctic foxes and polar bears, have shown lower Hg concentrations related to reduced sea ice-based foraging and increased land-based foraging. How climate change influences Hg in Arctic freshwater fishes is not clear, but for lacustrine populations it may depend on lake-specific conditions, including interrelated alterations in lake ice duration, turbidity, food web length and energy sources (benthic to pelagic), and growth dilution.

Climate change and mercury in the Arctic

They then added: "In several marine mammal and seabird species, tissue Hg concentrations have shown correlations with climate and weather variables, including climate oscillation indices and sea ice trends; these findings suggest that wind, precipitation, and cryosphere changes that alter Hg transport and deposition are impacting Hg concentrations in Arctic marine organisms.

Ecological changes, including northward range shifts of sub-Arctic species and altered body condition, have also been shown to affect Hg levels in some populations of Arctic marine species. Given the limited number of populations and species studied to date, especially within Arctic terrestrial and freshwater systems, further research is needed on climate-driven processes influencing Hg concentrations in Arctic ecosystems and their net effects.

Long-term pan-Arctic monitoring programs should consider ancillary datasets on climate, weather, organism ecology and physiology to improve interpretation of spatial variation and time trends of Hg in Arctic biota."