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SSF-Svalbard Science Forum

Mercury dynamics in Svalbard terrestrial ecosystems, RiS ID 11828.

Awarded: NOK 95,999

Frozen Arctic soils have been found to store large amounts of mercury (Hg), a highly toxic metal. As the permafrost is thawing due to climate change, it is suggested that this mercury could release from the soil, potentially becoming available to the terrestrial food web. Methylated mercury (MeHg) is particularly toxic as it can bioaccumulate, and biomagnify up the trophic food chain. This project, therefore, aims to provide a comprehensive overview of how Hg interacts with an Arctic terrestrial ecosystem. This will be done by studying the uptake, distribution, and elimination of Hg (both Hg and MeHg) in Svalbard biota, using the Svalbard reindeer as a model organism. The fieldwork will consist of both collecting vegetation and faecal samples from Colesdalen (a known reindeer herd location) and culling reindeer in areas around Reindalen to collect external and internal tissue samples. All collected samples will subsequently be analyzed for mercury (both THg and MeHg).

Funding scheme:

SSF-Svalbard Science Forum