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Increasing temperatures in the arctic have diluted the amount of mercury in those waters, according to a recent study posted in the American Geophysical Union’s blog.

Steve Brooks
Steve Brooks

The blog, referencing a study first reported by AGU, says that the increase in temperature leads not only to a bigger ice melt, but that it helps facilitate the transference of mercury from the sea into the air.

AGU reached out to Steve Brooks, an associate professor in the department of mechanical, aerospace and biomedical engineering to discuss the study’s findings as an impartial observer, since he wasn’t involved in it himself.

Brooks said oceanic mercury was where the “rubber meets the road” as far as the health of the food chain goes, since concentrations of mercury get higher in the apex predators who feed upon large amounts of organisms that consume mercury-laden water.

While warmer temperatures have a negative effect on polar life in other ways, Brooks pointed out that the lower mercury levels can actually improve not only the safety of eating fish but that it actually will help polar bear reproduction, since mercury has been found to lower the bears’ fertility.

The study can be read at AGU’s blog.