Experimental study of the influence of thawing permafrost on the chemical properties of sea water

In a warming environment, permafrost thawing can play a significant role in the chemical composition of coastal waters in the Arctic region. It is a potential source of organic and inorganic forms of nutrients, as well as heavy metals and pollutants. To estimate the permafrost thawing influence on the chemical properties of the sea water, an experimental study was conducted as part of a Norwegian-Russian expedition to Svalbard 11–17 June 2017. Permafrost (PF) samples were collected at an abrasive cliff 10 km west of Longyearbyen, after that, the experiment was performed at the University of Svalbard laboratory. The experiment was focused on identifying the possible changes in concentrations of nutrients, carbonate system parameters, and pollutant composition related to permafrost thawing. During the experiment, the samples of permafrost were added to the seawater. Then, the solution was exposed to natural conditions outdoors for 24 hours while water samples from the solution were taken at specified time intervals. Data from the experiment allowed for estimating the rate and change in concentrations of chemical substances due to permafrost thawing. This study shows the importance of permafrost thawing in the coastal areas chemical regime, affecting the metals supply, ocean acidification, and nutrient inputs; therefore, coastal ecosystems could be exposed to new impacts of numerous stresses associated with global warming.

Pogojeva M., Yakushev E., Ilinskaya A., Polukhin A., H.-F. Braaten H.-F. & Kristiansen T., 2018.  Experimental study of the influence of thawing permafrost on the chemical properties of sea water, Russian Journal of Earth Science 18:  ES5002. doi:10.2205/2018ES000629. Article.

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