February 3, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Melting glaciers turned out to be dangerous

In the melted waters of glaciers, researchers unexpectedly discovered mercury. How does this threaten humanity?

The concentration of mercury found in the research, scientists compare with the content of Chinese rivers, where industrial waste traditionally ends. The researchers analyzed the waters of the fjords and rivers formed by the melting of the Greenland ice sheet. Until now, it was believed that melt water is pure and does not contain harmful impurities, except for those that enter it from the air. The discovered toxicity caused the concern of scientists, according to BB.LV.

The main danger is that toxic substances can enter the food chain and negatively affect coastal ecosystems. It is not yet clear where the poisonous salts of mercury could get into the ice. For the study, samples of melt water were taken from several sources – two fjords and three rivers. Expecting to see high percentages of nutrients, scientists instead discovered toxins.

As a rule, the concentration of mercury cations in rivers does not exceed about 1-10 ng / l – the same concentration will be obtained if a grain of salt is dissolved in the Olympic pool. In Greenland, in thawed rivers, researchers found mercury in a concentration of 150 ng / l. This figure is much higher than the average observed in ordinary river water. Complicating the task, by measuring the mercury content in the melt water sediment, scientists discovered its unprecedented content – more than 2000 ng / l!

So far, based on the first assumptions, scientists believe that mercury got into the water not as a result of human activity, but from the earth’s crust, thanks to the processes taking place in it. However, there are too many questions, and each of them must be answered: how does mercury affect coastal ecosystems, how to protect animals and people from toxic effects and poisoning, how far from the foot of the glacier water is so highly saturated with mercury.

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