Pollution in the ARCtic System

NEW findings from PARCS supported research showing that arctic tundra ecosystems sequester large amounts of atmospheric elemental mercury
In a study published in Nature on 12 July 2017 , Jeroen Sonke and Martin Jiskra from CNRS-GET in Toulouse, together with american colleagues, show that gaseous elemental atmospheric mercury may account for 71% of total mercury in tundra ecosystems. The Arctic is affected by large scale mercury pollution from anthropogenic activities but understanding about how it arrives in Arctic ecosystems is very uncertain. Based on analysis of mercury deposition and stable isotopes collected in Alaska over a 2-yr period, the authors are able to show that soil and plant uptake of of atmospheric elemental mercury, in particular during the summer plant growth season, is a significant source compared to mercury wet deposition or sea-salt induced chemical re-cycling. The mercury stored in tundra ecosystems and soils may explain why Arctic rivers transport large amounts of mercury into the Arctic Ocean each year.
For further information see: INSU and Nature

Credit : Martin Jiskra (CNRS-GET)

PARCS has the overall goal to improve understanding about the sources, fate and impacts of pollution in the Arctic system, notably on climate, marine ecosystems and human society with the aim to improve predictive capability and to better inform development of adaptive strategies and sustainable solutions. PARCS is a project of the CNRS French Arctic Initiative (

PARCS employs a multi-disciplinary approach, bringing together groups from 19 French labs and several international partners and coordinated by LATMOS/CNRS. It brings together a cross-disciplinary team to tackle issues related to Arctic air pollution (e.g. aerosols, ozone), and toxic contaminants such as mercury and persistent organic pollutants, and impacts on climate (aerosol-cloud interactions), ecosystems (contaminants in seabirds, pollutant cycling in marine/snow environments), and local societies (air pollution perceptions and risks). PARCS has 4 major research objectives:

- To improve characterization of local pollutant emissions relative to long-range pollution transport from mid-latitude sources, through a combination of new measurements, community based risk assessments and pollution monitoring,
- To increase understanding about interactions between natural cycles and anthropogenic pollution, including pollutant wet/dry deposition, quantification of natural sources (relative to anthropogenic sources), pollutant recycling at the snow/ice-atmosphere interface, quantification of riverine mercury fluxes,
- To examine pollutant impacts on marine biogeochemistry, nutrients and oceanic emissions and improve assessment of marine mercury cycling and contaminant impacts on Arctic fauna (sea-birds),
- To improve understanding about aerosol-cloud interactions and direct/indirect effects on climate.

PARCS is contributing to a new international initiative on Arctic air pollution (PACES - air Pollution in the Arctic: Climate, Environment and Societies,, endorsed under IASC and IGAC (Future Earth) as well as to, for example, Arctic Council activities under AMAP/CAFF.

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