Mercury in Greenland

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High Mercury levels discovered in the rivers related to the Greenland Ice Sheet

Glacial Rivers of Greenland have high concentration of mercury, researchers say…learn more…

Thursday, 27th May 2021

Water bodies that are fed by the massive Ice Sheet of Greenland were found to have very high levels of mercury, a toxic metal that occurs naturally in land and water bodies. Researchers have discovered that the content of mercury in the fjords and rivers of South-West Greenland is almost similar to the content of mercury found in China’s contaminated inland rivers.

High quantities of this toxic metal can enter into the coastal food chain via bioaccumulation and thus, influence the ecosystem of the Arctic region. A research paper published in the journal ‘Nature Geoscience’ informed me of the same. Greenland is known for supplying seafood to the rest of the world.

The researchers involved in this study collected samples of water from two fjords and three rivers associated with the Greenland ice sheet and discovered nearly 10 times the quantity of mercury in the waters when compared to the normal rivers.

The research was led by the Florida State University. Recently, they published a press release briefing their study:

The content of dissolved mercury in the rivers is typically around 1 – 10 ng L-1 (the amount is equal to the size of a salt grain portion of the toxic metal mercury in a swimming pool of the Olympic contest). In the rivers formed by the melting of glaciers as found in Greenland, scientists could discover quantities of dissolved mercury in an excess amount of nearly 150 ng L-1; i.e. much higher than that found in a river on an average. Particulate versions of mercury transported by glacial sediment were discovered in significantly higher concentrations of over 2000 ng L-1.

Also Read: Glaciers Worldwide are Melting Faster Than Ever Before.

The research is likely to set off alterations in the manner mercury levels are managed on a global scale, the authors of the research foretold. 

Jon Hawkings, a renowned postdoctoral research scientist at the Florida State University and at the German Research Centre for Geosciences, who had taken a lead in the study, stated:

All the initiatives for managing the mercury levels this far have emerged from the concept that the rising levels of mercury concentrations that we have been spotting across the system of the earth spring mainly from the direct anthropogenic activities, such as industry.

But the toxic metal of mercury obtained from climatically sensitized environments such as glaciers might be a key source the management of which is pretty difficult.

Water pollution resulting similarly may increase due to the continual heating up of the Earth and the speeded-up melting of glaciers and ice sheets. The research findings, therefore, open up a brand new chapter pertaining to the understanding of the topic of global warming and its impacts.

“The discovery that glaciers may also carry potential toxins unveils a concerning dimension to how they influence water quality and downstream communities, which may alter in a warming world,” said Jemma Wadham, a celebrated glaciologist and a professor at the Cabot Institute for the Environment at Bristol and a researcher behind this research report.

The research findings foster a strong concept formation pertaining to a burgeon research domain that consists in dismissing the thought that the glaciers have either little or absolutely no impact on the biological and geochemical processes of the Earth, highlighted the research paper.

The News Talkie Bureau



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