While mercury is a naturally occurring element, human activity has increased concentrations in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems around the globe. Major sources of emissions include artisanal and small-scale gold mining and coal combustion outside the Arctic. Arctic permafrost soils contain high levels of mercury, nearly double as much as all other soils, the ocean and the atmosphere combined. The impact of climate change on mercury is likely to be complex. However, we know that thawing permafrost will increase soil erosion. This can cause the release of ancient stores of mercury.
Produced by: GRID-Arendal