Hg in the Arctic

Impacts of recent climate and emissions on mercury bioaccumulation in Arctic marine food-webs

Co-PIs: Daniel J. Jacob AND Elsie M. Sunderland

People: Jenny FisherBob Yantosca, Anne Soerensen

Support: NSF Arctic Sciences Program


The Lena River delta. The Lena is one of several major rivers that flows northward into the Arctic Ocean. Credit: False-color satellite image courtesy of NASA


This project aims to better understand the factors controlling mercury concentrations in Arctic biota and their trends over the past three decades (1980-2010). It will involve the development of a coupled atmospheric, oceanic and food-web model for the Arctic, that is calibrated and evaluated with observations. This model will allow us to examine the sensitivity of biological Hg concentrations at different trophic levels to changes in anthropogenic emissions, atmospheric and oceanic climate, and other environmental factors. This work will provide a fundamental vehicle for testing different hypotheses about mercury cycling and bioaccumulation in the Arctic. Sensitivity analyses using the model will identify areas of greatest uncertainty and help guide future research.



J.A. Fisher, D.J. Jacob, A.L. Soerensen, H.M. Amos, A. Steffen, E.M. Sunderland. 2012. Large mercury evasion from Arctic Ocean in summer: A source from circumpolar rivers? Nature Geosciences,