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Stern G.A.,Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans | Stern G.A.,University of Manitoba | Macdonald R.W.,University of Manitoba | Macdonald R.W.,Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans | And 11 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2012

Recent studies have shown that climate change is already having significant impacts on many aspects of transport pathways, speciation and cycling of mercury within Arctic ecosystems. For example, the extensive loss of sea-ice in the Arctic Ocean and the concurrent shift from greater proportions of perennial to annual types have been shown to promote changes in primary productivity, shift foodweb structures, alter mercury methylation and demethylation rates, and influence mercury distribution and transport across the ocean-sea-ice-atmosphere interface (bottom-up processes). In addition, changes in animal social behavior associated with changing sea-ice regimes can affect dietary exposure to mercury (top-down processes). In this review, we address these and other possible ramifications of climate variability on mercury cycling, processes and exposure by applying recent literature to the following nine questions; 1) What impact has climate change had on Arctic physical characteristics and processes? 2) How do rising temperatures affect atmospheric mercury chemistry? 3) Will a decrease in sea-ice coverage have an impact on the amount of atmospheric mercury deposited to or emitted from the Arctic Ocean, and if so, how? 4) Does climate affect air-surface mercury flux, and riverine mercury fluxes, in Arctic freshwater and terrestrial systems, and if so, how? 5) How does climate change affect mercury methylation/demethylation in different compartments in the Arctic Ocean and freshwater systems? 6) How will climate change alter the structure and dynamics of freshwater food webs, and thereby affect the bioaccumulation of mercury? 7) How will climate change alter the structure and dynamics of marine food webs, and thereby affect the bioaccumulation of marine mercury? 8) What are the likely mercury emissions from melting glaciers and thawing permafrost under climate change scenarios? and 9) What can be learned from current mass balance inventories of mercury in the Arctic? The review finishes with several conclusions and recommendations. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. Source


Dietz R.,University of Aarhus | Sonne C.,University of Aarhus | Basu N.,University of Michigan | Braune B.,Carleton University | And 32 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2013

This review critically evaluates the available mercury (Hg) data in Arctic marine biota and the Inuit population against toxicity threshold values. In particular marine top predators exhibit concentrations of mercury in their tissues and organs that are believed to exceed thresholds for biological effects. Species whose concentrations exceed threshold values include the polar bears (Ursus maritimus), beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas), pilot whale (Globicephala melas), hooded seal (Cystophora cristata), a few seabird species, and landlocked Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus). Toothed whales appear to be one of the most vulnerable groups, with high concentrations of mercury recorded in brain tissue with associated signs of neurochemical effects. Evidence of increasing concentrations in mercury in some biota in Arctic Canada and Greenland is therefore a concern with respect to ecosystem health. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. Source


Douglas T.A.,U.S. Army | Loseto L.L.,University of Winnipeg | MacDonald R.W.,Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Center | Outridge P.,Geological Survey of Canada | And 24 more authors.
Environmental Chemistry | Year: 2012

This review is the result of a series of multidisciplinary meetings organised by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme as part of their 2011 Assessment 'Mercury in the Arctic'. This paper presents the state-of-the-art knowledge on the environmental fate of mercury following its entry into the Arctic by oceanic, atmospheric and terrestrial pathways. Our focus is on the movement, transformation and bioaccumulation of Hg in aquatic (marine and fresh water) and terrestrial ecosystems. The processes most relevant to biological Hg uptake and the potential risk associated with Hg exposure in wildlife are emphasised. We present discussions of the chemical transformations of newly deposited or transported Hg in marine, fresh water and terrestrial environments and of the movement of Hg from air, soil and water environmental compartments into food webs. Methylation, a key process controlling the fate of Hg in most ecosystems, and the role of trophic processes in controlling Hg in higher order animals are also included. Case studies on Eastern Beaufort Sea beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) and landlocked Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) are presented as examples of the relationship between ecosystem trophic processes and biologic Hg levels. We examine whether atmospheric mercury depletion events (AMDEs) contribute to increased Hg levels in Arctic biota and provide information on the links between organic carbon and Hg speciation, dynamics and bioavailability. Long-term sequestration of Hg into non-biological archives is also addressed. The review concludes by identifying major knowledge gaps in our understanding, including: (1) the rates of Hg entry into marine and terrestrial ecosystems and the rates of inorganic and MeHg uptake by Arctic microbial and algal communities; (2) the bioavailable fraction of AMDE-related Hg and its rate of accumulation by biota and (3) the fresh water and marine MeHg cycle in the Arctic, especially the marine MeHg cycle. © 2012 CSIRO. Source


Riget F.,University of Aarhus | Braune B.,Carleton University | Bignert A.,Swedish Museum of Natural History | Wilson S.,Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme AMAP Secretariat | And 17 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2011

A statistically robust method was applied to 83 time-series of mercury in Arctic biota from marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems with the purpose of generating a 'meta-analysis' of temporal trend data collected over the past two to three decades, mostly under the auspices of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP). Sampling locations ranged from Alaska in the west to northern Scandinavia in the east. Information from recently published temporal trend studies was tabulated to supplement the results of the statistical analyses. No generally consistent trend was evident across tissues and species from the circumpolar Arctic during the last 30. years or so. However, there was a clear west-to-east gradient in the occurrence of recent increasing Hg trends, with larger numbers and a higher proportion of biotic datasets in the Canadian and Greenland region of the Arctic showing significant increases than in the North Atlantic Arctic. Most of the increasing datasets were for marine species, especially marine mammals. A total of 16 (19%) out of the 83 time-series could be classified as "adequate", where adequate is defined as the number of actual monitoring years in a time-series being equal to or greater than the number of years of sampling required to detect a 5% annual change in Hg concentrations, with a significance level of P < 0.05 and 80% statistical power. At the time of the previous AMAP Assessment, only 10% of the Hg time-series were deemed adequate. If an additional 5. years of data were to be added to the current set of time-series, it is predicted that 53% of time-series would become adequate. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. Source


Riget F.,University of Aarhus | Bignert A.,Swedish Museum of Natural History | Braune B.,Carleton University | Stow J.,Indian and Northern Affairs Canada | Wilson S.,Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme AMAP Secretariat
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2010

A statistically robust method was applied to 316 time-series of 'legacy' persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in Arctic biota from marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems with the purpose of generating a 'meta-analysis' of temporal trend data collected over the past two to three decades for locations from Alaska in the west to northern Scandinavian in the east. Information from recently published temporal trend studies was tabulated and comparisons were also drawn with trends in arctic air. Most of the analysed time-series of legacy POP compounds showed decreasing trends, with only a few time-series showing significantly increasing trends. Compounds such as α-HCH, γ-HCH and ΣDDT had a relatively high proportion of time-series showing significantly decreasing trends; ΣCHL had the lowest proportion. β-HCH was an exception, where long-range transport through the ocean, and not the atmosphere, may explain several increasing trends that were detected in the Canadian Arctic. Moving east from the Canadian Arctic there was a trend towards a greater proportion of significantly decreasing trends. Several time-series for DDE and ΣDDT showed significantly non-exponential trends, most often with a period of relative stability followed by a decrease. The median 'minimum detectable annual change within a 10-year period' for all of the time-series considered was 12% which did not meet the desirable level of statistical power capable of detecting a 5% annual change with a significance level of 5% within a 10-year period. The trends observed in the biota were consistent with decreasing trends of legacy POPs reported for Arctic air which appear to follow historic decreases in emissions. However, recent decreases in air are also starting to show signs of levelling off which may be an indication that atmospheric concentrations and, consequently those in the biota, are being less driven by primary sources and more by environmental processes and degradation. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. Source

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