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What are the likely changes in mercury concentration in the Arctic atmosphere and ocean under future emissions scenarios?
Scripps Institution of Oceanography.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9289-8107
Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Environmental research and monitoring.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8490-8600
Extreme Environments Research Laboratory, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).
University of California Santa Cruz.
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2022 (English)In: Science of the Total Environment, ISSN 0048-9697, E-ISSN 1879-1026, Vol. 836, article id 155477Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Arctic mercury (Hg) concentrations respond to changes in anthropogenic Hg emissions and environmental change. This manuscript, prepared for the 2021 Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme Mercury Assessment, explores the response of Arctic Ocean Hg concentrations to changing primary Hg emissions and to changing sea-ice cover, river inputs, and net primary production. To do this, we conduct a model analysis using a 2015 Hg inventory and future anthropogenic Hg emission scenarios. We model future atmospheric Hg deposition to the surface ocean as a flux to the surface water or sea ice using three scenarios: No Action, New Policy (NP), and Maximum Feasible Reduction (MFR). We then force a five-compartment box model of Hg cycling in the Arctic Ocean with these scenarios and literature-derived climate variables to simulate environmental change. No Action results in a 51% higher Hg deposition rate by 2050 while increasing Hg concentrations in the surface water by 22% and <9% at depth. Both “action” scenarios (NP and MFR), implemented in 2020 or 2035, result in lower Hg deposition ranging from 7% (NP delayed to 2035) to 30% (MFR implemented in 2020) by 2050. Under this last scenario, ocean Hg concentrations decline by 14% in the surface and 4% at depth. We find that the sea-ice cover decline exerts the strongest Hg reducing forcing on the Arctic Ocean while increasing river discharge increases Hg concentrations. When modified together the climate scenarios result in a ≤5% Hg decline by 2050 in the Arctic Ocean. Thus, we show that the magnitude of emissions-induced future changes in the Arctic Ocean is likely to be substantial compared to climate-induced effects. Furthermore, this study underscores the need for prompt and ambitious action for changing Hg concentrations in the Arctic, since delaying less ambitious reduction measures–like NP–until 2035 may become offset by Hg accumulated from pre-2035 emissions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2022. Vol. 836, article id 155477
Keywords [en]
Mercury, Arctic, model, future scenarios
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Man and the environment
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:nrm:diva-4801DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.155477OAI: oai:DiVA.org:nrm-4801DiVA, id: diva2:1695664
Available from: 2022-09-14 Created: 2022-09-14 Last updated: 2022-09-14Bibliographically approved

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Schartup, Amina T.Soerensen, Anne L.
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