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Recent research suggests that climate change increases the input of mercury into the Arctic Ocean, and ultimately in the amount found in fish and marine mammals.
Robert Mason, a professor of marine sciences at the University of Connecticut, shared his findings live from the R/V Sikuliaq in a presentation hosted by UAF Northwest Campus and UAF SeaGrant.
Mason started his presentation by explaining that mercury is not a naturally occurring substance in ocean waters. Most of it comes from mining and coal burning in other parts of the world. “Most of the mercury coming into the Arctic comes from somewhere else, it’s not generated in the Arctic. People in the Arctic are one of the most exposed populations globally to mercury impacts.” – Robert Mason He goes on to explain that this high amount of mercury is due to the Arctic Ocean’s strong relationship with the terrestrial environment.
First, mercury is collected by plants in the tundra; once snow buries the vegetation , the mercury does not have the sunlight and heat it needs to break down and move back into the atmosphere. This leads the mercury to flow into the ocean with the snow melt and erosion, where it is absorbed […]