Scientists discover enormous reserves of mercury in permafrost

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Washington DC: Scientists have discovered massive reserves of mercury hidden in permafrost.

Permafrost is a thick subsurface layer of soil that remains below freezing point throughout the year, occurring chiefly in polar regions.

Researchers have discovered permafrost in the northern hemisphere stores massive amounts of natural mercury, a finding with significant implications for human health and ecosystems worldwide as exposure to mercury – even small amounts – can cause serious health problems.

The study reveals the northern permafrost soils are the largest reservoir of mercury on the planet, storing nearly twice as much mercury as all other soils, the ocean and the atmosphere combined.

In a new study, scientists measured mercury concentrations in permafrost cores from Alaska and estimated how much mercury has been trapped in permafrost north of the equator since the last Ice Age.

“This discovery is a game-changer,” said Paul Schuster, a hydrologist at…

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