Previous studies have suggested that rising air and ocean temperatures caused by climate change are rapidly melting Arctic ice and have the potential to migrate and accumulate legacy persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in neighboring coastal food webs. But a recent new study from a team of researchers at the Norwegian Institute for Water Quality has shown that the acceleration of glacier melting is unlikely to significantly increase the accumulation of POPs in coastal animals. The results were published online on April 26 in Environmental Science and Technology.
In this study, the team observed zooplankton and benthic fauna in the Isfarst of Svalbard and determined the concentrations of several persistent organic pollutants in these animals.
The results showed that the concentration of pollutants in the endosomphagics of herbivorous zooplankton was highest in May, but was almost the same as the concentration of water blooms in spring phytoplankton; the concentration of pollutants in the body was lowest in August. When zooplankton have the highest lipid content, it is shown that the fjord is heavily affected by sediment-rich land inputs.
From June to August, concentrations of α-hexachlorocyclohexane (α-HCH) in zooplankton increased slightly, with further studies suggesting that this is mainly affected by land sediment inputs, while glacial meltwater is the second source of α-HCH in end-summer fjord zooplankton.
The pollution from glacial meltwater may not be significant. Image from the paper
The study also found that, in addition to α-HCH, land inputs are often associated with lower concentrations of POPs in zooplankton, suggesting that increased glacier melting is unlikely to significantly increase the exposure of coastal animals to pollutants such as POPs. (Source: China Science Daily Zheng Jinwu)
Related paper information:https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.1c07062