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Who would have thought? Unusual high mercury levels in Greenland

Credit: Photo courtesy of Alexander Hafemann/Unsplash

High concentrations of mercury, a naturally occurring metal, were found in rivers and fjords connected to the Greenland Ice Sheet. The finding underscores how the climate crisis may lead to unforeseen effects on human life and the rest of the world.

According to new research from Florida State University, the unexpected discovery showed the mercury levels to be similar to polluted rivers in industrial China. Most of all, the worrying discovery raises concerns about the toxic metal bioaccumulating in marine life and impacting the surrounding ecosystem.

Initially, the researchers sampled waters from three meltwater rivers and two fjords near the Greenland Ice Sheet to analyze the water quality and nutrient content of meltwaters from the glacier. As reported in their recent study in Nature Geoscience, they discovered that the region’s meltwaters contain some of the highest levels of mercury found in natural waters.  

Mercury is one of the elements of global concern due to its toxicity and ability to accumulate in food webs in the form of toxic methylmercury. Not to mention, the waters surrounding Greenland are a significant source of cold-water shrimp, halibut, and cod, where the country is a major exporter of seafood.

The unusual finding also illuminates the complicated impacts and realities of the rapidly melting glaciers across the globe. It is worth noting that the mercury source is most likely coming from Earth itself instead of anthropogenic activities or industrial sources. This study may affect the way mercury pollution is managed globally in the future.

Read the full news coverage here: https://scitechdaily.com/surprisingly-high-levels-of-toxic-mercury-discovered-in-greenland-glacial-meltwaters/

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