Amina Schartup (Scripps)
The Biogeochemical Cycle of Mercury in an Era of Environmental Change
Mercury is a naturally occurring element that has been mined and released by humans for more than 3,000 years. Inorganic mercury is released by human activities and makes up most of the mercury reservoir in the environment. However, only the organic form of mercury, methylmercury, biomagnifies in food webs and is associated with potent neurodevelopmental impacts in humans and wildlife. Understanding the microbial reactions and geochemical conditions conducive to the formation of methylmercury has been the focus of many years of research due to global impacts on the health of fish-consuming wildlife and human populations. Most of the global methylmercury exposure for human populations is from marine ecosystems due to bioaccumulation in predatory fish at levels that are a million times, or more, higher than seawater. This presentation will provide an overview of recent advances in the understanding of methylmercury formation, uptake by phytoplankton, and biomagnification in marine food webs. My approach combines new field data collection, experimental measurements, isotopic tools, and numerical modeling. I will also discuss how changes in the biogeochemistry of marine ecosystems are affecting the mercury cycle.
About this Series:
The PAOC Colloquium [PAOCC] is a weekly interdisciplinary seminar series that brings together the whole PAOC community. Seminar topics include all research concerning the physics, chemistry, and biology of the atmospheres, oceans and climate, but also talks about e.g. societal impacts of climatic processes. The seminars take place on Monday from 12-1pm. Besides the seminar, individual meetings with professors, post-docs, and students are arranged. Contact: email@example.com.