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Long-range mercury transport

Coal burning for electric power generation and for industrial purposes continues to increase, especially in Asia (UNEP, 2013). Assessing the global spread and fate of mercury is a challenging task, as there are few studies available about net deposition of different forms of mercury in air, water and land. For example, when mercury moves from air to water and land it is generally in an oxidized gaseous or particle form, whereas when it is remitted to air it has been converted back to gaseous elemental mercury. These complicated mechanisms make final calculations a challenging task. Much of the mercury in the Arctic has been carried over long distances from human sources at lower latitudes. The main way mercury is transported to the Arctic is by the atmosphere, which contributes slightly less than half. Oceanic transport, mainly from the Atlantic, makes up around 23 per cent, with a similar amount coming from coastal erosion. The remainder comes from rivers. Mercury reaches the Arctic on air currents within days, while on ocean currents it may take decades.

Year: 2013

From collection: Mercury - Time to act

Cartographer: GRID-Arendal

Tags: Global UNEP

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