The rise in global sea level may not be the only or even the most significant consequence of melting glaciers due to global warming. A new study conducted by experts from the U.S. Geological survey have shown that in the permafrost of the Northern hemisphere of our planet locked up a huge amount of mercury and the contact with water and atmosphere can cause a global catastrophe.
Mercury gets into the glaciers together with the organic matter from the soil. In order to calculate its quantity, the researchers investigated 13 taken in Alaska in the period from 2004 to 2012 ice samples, as well as 11 thousand samples of soils collected in areas of tundra in many different points. As a result, the calculations of experts showed that only in the ice of the Northern hemisphere contains 793 million kilograms of mercury is ten times more than hit the water and the atmosphere due to human activities over three decades.
While the mercury remains trapped in the ice, and no threat to humanity or the planet in General, it is not, however, in case glaciers will continue to melt, the situation will change — mercury will react with carbon and hydrogen that will result in positive substance called methylmercury. These positive ions in turn, can affect the Central nervous system of humans and many other living beings.
The study was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
In the past year, a group of researchers from Ural Federal University and several institutes of Russian Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with colleagues from France, Germany and Japan found out that due to the melting of permafrost part of the territory of eight Russian regions will disappear under the water. Among other potential consequences of melting glaciers some scientists call catastrophic hurricanes and tsunamis. While scientists get all the new evidence that the current rate of permafrost thawing can be called “unprecedented.”
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