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Scary Amounts of Mercury Have Been Found Lurking in The Permafrost

Scary Amounts of Mercury Have Been Found Lurking in The Permafrost 88

The northern hemisphere’s permafrost regions have been concealing a really unpleasant surprise: mercury. A lot of mercury. Nearly twice as much mercury as the rest of the planet’s natural mercury combined.

Researchers from the US Geological Survey studied core samples from the Alaskan permafrost, and their estimates show 793 million kilograms of mercury have been trapped in the northern hemisphere’s permafrost since the last Ice Age.

This finding has grave implications if the permafrost melts away.

And the melt has already started happening – in the Arctic, melting permafrost has revealed some giant (thankfully dormant) viruses tens of thousands of years old that could awaken and wreak havoc.

Deforestation has caused permafrost melt in Siberia, which in turn caused the ground to collapse into a giant crater; and in other parts of Siberia, permafrost thaw has been linked to the appearance of mysterious sinkholes and craters.

Now there’s also mercury to worry about. If the permafrost continues to melt, it could release a tremendous amount of mercury, and this could, in turn, impact ecosystems all around the world.

“There would be no environmental problem if everything remained frozen, but we know the Earth is getting warmer,” said lead author Paul Schuster, a hydrologist at the US Geological Survey.

“Although measurement of the rate of permafrost thaw was not part of this study, the thawing permafrost provides a potential for mercury to be released – that’s just physics.”

Scary Amounts of Mercury Have Been Found Lurking in The Permafrost 89
These maps show mercury concentration in micrograms per square metre for four soil depths. (Schuster et al./GRL/AGU)

Natural mercury enters the permafrost from the atmosphere. As part of the mercury cycle, atmospheric mercury vapour binds with organic material in the soil, which is then buried by sediment. Over time, it is frozen into the permafrost.

To gauge the mercury levels in the permafrost, Schuster and his team drilled 13 core samples between 2004 and 2012 from different sites around Alaska, selected for their diverse soil characteristics to represent the entire northern hemisphere.

The measurements taken by the team were consistent with published results for other tundra soils, and with 11,000 measurements taken from 4,926 other non-permafrost sites around the world.

According to the team’s calculations, there are 793 gigagrams (793 million kilograms), or more than 15 million gallons, of mercury frozen in the northern hemisphere’s permafrost. That is, the researchers said, roughly 10 times the amount of all human-caused mercury emissions over the last 30 years.

If we include non-permafrost soils in the permafrost regions, there are 1,656 gigagrams of mercury stowed away down there. This is nearly twice as much as is found in non-permafrost regions, the oceans, and the atmosphere combined.

If it were to leach into the waterways, it could have grave implications. Inorganic mercury can be transformed by microbes into methylmercury, a potent neurotoxin. Cases of methylmercury poisoning have occurred in humans after eating fish from methylmercury-contaminated water, and it can cause central nervous system damage and birth defects.

“There’s a significant social and human health aspect to this study,” said Steve Sebestyen, a research hydrologist at the USDA Forest Service in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Sebestyen was not involved with the study.

“The consequences of this mercury being released into the environment are potentially huge because mercury has health effects on organisms and can travel up the food chain, adversely affecting native and other communities.”

And if the mercury gets into the atmosphere, it could travel around the world.

The next step in Schuster’s research is to model how climate change could cause the permafrost to release mercury, and how it would spread around the world.

“24 percent of all the soil above the equator is permafrost, and it has this huge pool of locked-up mercury,” he said.

“What happens if the permafrost thaws? How far will the mercury travel up the food chain? These are big-picture questions that we need to answer.”

The research was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

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Polar vortex: “wild” winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January

Polar vortex: "wild" winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January 92

In the upper atmosphere above the North Pole, experts saw a rapidly swirling vortex of cold air that could bring severe frosts to the United States, Northern Europe and East Asia. Serious cold snap and snowy weather are expected after January the 16th.

Snowfalls and a cold snap hit South Korea since the start of 2021, hitting historic snow maximums and temperatures. In the country, for the first time since 1964, television and newer communications are sending people cold snap warnings:

The situation is similar in Japan, where a new snow storm hit historic highs:

On January 7, the thermometer In Beijing dropped to -20 degrees Celsius, breaking the 1966 record. In other regions of China, the temperature is also not sugar, and you can only move around in special uniforms:

The cold even reached Taiwan, where the temperature in some areas dropped below freezing point, snow poured down and people realized that rice terraces can be used as a ski jump:

Even more snow went to Spain, where on January 6, 2021, a temperature of -34.1 ° C was recorded – the lowest on record. After that, a snow storm hit the country, which has not been seen for 80 years:

The same thing happens in Canada and in the northern states of the United States:

It seems that after a stratospheric warming, the subpolar vortex began to split:

The vortex itself is a standard phenomenon. However, this time experts were surprised at his movement. It is possible that in the near future it will be divided into two parts. 

Scientists associate the strange behavior with the changed climate in the Arctic, which has become warmer. From September to December, the amount of ice cover decreased significantly.

The polar vortex is a low-pressure region located in the stratosphere and filled with cold air. When the jet stream of air that holds the vortex weakens, the low pressure area moves south. 

As the ice shrinks, more moisture will move inland. It will turn to snow, so snowfalls are expected. Snow, in turn, reflects heat, leading to a cold snap.

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Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared

Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared 93

Eyewitnesses said they heard a loud crash at dawn when a huge hole in the ground formed outside the Ponticelli Ospedale del Mare hospital in eastern Naples.

Early in the morning of January 8, 2021, a sinkhole occurred in the parking lot of a clinic in Naples. The depth of the formed cavity is about 20 meters, the total area of ​​the hole is about 2,000 square meters.

No casualties were found at the scene; firefighters say the sinkhole “affected an area of ​​about 500 square meters” and engulfed several cars parked near the hospital.

As the press writes and as a little can be seen from the videos, rescuers and firefighters were running around the pit together with the governor of the area.  But who should be there in the forefront are Italian geologists, since Naples stands in the very center of the volcanic system known as the Phlegrean Fields.

If the surface collapsed, moreover – the surface reinforced with concrete and reinforced from below with some kind of communications, then we are talking about serious soil deformations caused by the activity of magma.

Italy has been in doubt since the summer of 2020, because swarms were observed there in very atypical places in May, and according to the forecasts of old Italian seismologists, who had witnessed many strong earthquakes, it should have boomed in the August region.

Fortunately, nothing bad happened to Italy and there was no big earthquake. But, since there are swarms, it means that something is being prepared, the magma is gathering strength. 

Following this particular sinkhole event – an obvious sign that a major earthquake in Italy is already very close.

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Planet Earth

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China 94

In the first months of 2020, the whole world with a certain fright followed the events unfolding in China, where people fell on the streets during the day and astronauts wandered, and in the evening crematoria began to smoke. And now, with the onset of December, the cycle seems to be repeating itself.

Shunyi area in Beijing, where the authorities announced “wartime status” the day before. As you can see in the videos, thousands of people are lined up in the queue for mandatory testing:

Dalian city, where “wartime” is also declared. Neighborhoods are blockaded, people are walled up in entrances, familiar characters of George Lucas roam the streets:

https://twitter.com/UndergroundSilk/status/1341741036297723905?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Chinese ‘rescuers’, before performing a combat mission:

Chengdu City:

Daluo Port, Yunnan – tourists came for adventure and they received the ‘time of their life’ after leaving the ramp:

If something happens in Beijing, it does not mean that tomorrow the same will happen everywhere. However, the trend towards such dynamics is observed and, as the practice of the first wave of the pandemic has shown, all countries and people, to one degree or another, have taken into account the ‘Chinese experience’. 

Therefore, one must think that everything will now be in peace, as in spring – a new global round of the fight against the Covid has begun in China, a new great pandemic cycle!

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