New Mercury Threat To Oceans From Climate Change

New Mercury Threat To Oceans From Climate Change.

In a study published in Science Advance, increasing levels of toxic mercury and its compounds have been found in fish caught for our consumption. The input of mercury (Hg) to our ecosystems is estimated to have increased two- to fivefold during the industrial era. Escalating anthropogenic land use and climate change are expected to alter the input rates of terrestrial natural organic matter and nutrients to aquatic ecosystems, where Hg accumulates in aquatic biota as neurotoxic methylmercury (MeHg). For example, climate change has been projected to induce 10 to 50% runoff increases for large coastal regions globally. Using mercury mass balance calculations, the scientists have predicted that MeHg concentration in zooplankton can increase by a factor of 3 to 6 in coastal areas following scenarios with 15 to 30% increased terrestrial runoff. The results demonstrate the importance of incorporating the impact of climate-induced changes in food web structure on MeHg bioaccumulation in future biogeochemical cycling models and risk assessments of Hg.

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