The objective of Work Package 3 is to improve understanding of the transfer of chemical contaminants between the atmosphere, as an important source, and marine and terrestrial surfaces in the context of a changing Arctic climate.
The snowpack accumulates contaminants from the atmosphere and then releases them during periods of melt. Changing rates of precipitation and decreasing seasonal sea-ice cover will affect the transfer of chemical contaminants and could increase the deposition of contaminants into surface ocean waters. The work package will examine these transfer processes in detail and determine the accumulation of chemical contaminants in selected marine and terrestrial food webs and human foodstuffs.
The behaviour of older, well-studied chemicals such as organochlorine pesticides will be compared to that of newer contaminants such as brominated flame retardants (PBDEs) and perfluorinated alkylated substances (PFAS), both of which have been observed to accumulate in Arctic biota.
Field work will be conducted in and around Svalbard to examine chemical behaviour during snow-melt and transfer to ice-free ocean waters. Contaminant uptake into the lower food web of the marginal ice zone will be compared to data acquired in recent marine studies in the Canadian Arctic. In addition, for human exposure studies, chemical contaminants will be analysed in selected species of fish, birds, and mammals that serve as important ‘country foods’.
Nine partners will cooperate on Work Package 3, led by Dr Crispin Halsall, Lancaster University (ULANC). Other partners are the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU), Masaryk University (MUNI), the Swedish Environmental Institute (IVL), Stockholm University (SU), the Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), Environment Canada (EC-GC), and the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).