Peer-reviewed articles

Temporal trends of Hg in Arctic biota, an update

Authors: Riget, F., Braune, B., Bignert, A., Wilson, S., Aars, J., Born, E., Dam, M., Dietz, R., Evans, M., Evans, T., Gamber, M., Gantner, N., Green, N., Gunnlaugsdóttir, H., Kannan, K., Letcher, R., Muir, D., Roach, P., Sonne, C., Stern, G., Wiig, O.

Version: Science of the Total Environment

Publication year: 2011


A statistically robust method was applied to 83 time-series of mercury in Arctic biota from marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems with the purpose of generating a 'meta-analysis' of temporal trend data collected over the past two to three decades, mostly during the auspices of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP). Sampling locations ranged from Alaska in the west to northern Scandinavia in the east. Information from recently published temporal trend studies was tabulated to supplement the results of the statistical analyzes. No generally consistent trend was evident across tissues and species from the circumpolar Arctic during the last 30 years or so. However, there was a clear west-to-east gradient in the occurrence of recent increasing Hg trends, with larger numbers and a higher proportion of biotic datasets in the Canadian and Greenland region of the Arctic showing significant increases than in the North Atlantic Arctic. Most of the increasing datasets were for marine species, especially marine mammals. A total of 16 (19%) out of the 83 time-series could be classified as “adequate”, where adequate is defined as the number of actual monitoring years in a time-series being equal to or greater than the number of years of sampling required to detect a 5% annual change in Hg concentrations, with a significance level of P <0.05 and 80% statistical power. At the time of the previous AMAP Assessment, only 10% of the Hg time-series were deemed adequate. If an additional 5 years of data were to be added to the current set of time-series, it is predicted that 53% of time-series would become adequate.

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