According to a study which the journal Geophysical Research Letters recently published, it seems that the largest mercury reserves in the world are trapped in the Arctic permafrost. According to lead study author Paul Schuster, this discovery might change what we knew about these mercury reserves forever. The researchers managed to quantify an entire mercury pool. This has never been done before and the results they got might make us understand how the global mercury cycle actually works.
The team found these huge mercury reserves after drilling in the permafrost in Alaska. According to analysis, the Arctic permafrost actually holds double the amount of mercury that exists on the surface of our planet. This discovery is monumental as it might help experts have a better understanding of the Earth’s atmospheric, geological and oceanic systems and the way they store the mercury. It’s also worth noting that the mercury from inside the permafrost has been in there since the last Ice Age. Usually, it exists in the atmosphere, but it can bind to particles in water and even soil.
The Arctic permafrost reveals largest reserve of mercury
Before making this amazing discovery, the team of experts measured 15 million gallons of mercury in the frozen soil over about ten years. Their final conclusion is that the Arctic permafrost holds 1,656 gigagrams of mercury. However, as fascinating as this discovery might be, experts cannot help but wonder about the future. What will actually happen with these reserves when the permafrost melts?
According to scientists, the consequences of the mercury being released might be huge. Mercury can affect the health of living organisms. It can affect the food chain. A recent study actually claims that the fish in Michigan’s Northern Peninsula might not be safe to eat for decades. Mercury might also affect ecosystems and indigenous communities that do not know how to live otherwise.
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