Large mercury release from the Greenland Ice Sheet invalidated

Christian Juncher Jørgensen, Jens Søndergaard, Martin Mørk Larsen, Kristian Kjellerup Kjeldsen, Diogo Rosa, Sarah Elise Sapper, Lars Eric Heimbürger-Boavida, Stephen G. Kohler, Feiyue Wang, Zhiyuan Gao, Debbie Armstrong, Christian Nyrop Albers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


The major input of mercury (Hg) to the Arctic is normally ascribed to long-range transport of anthropogenic Hg emissions. Recently, alarming concentrations of Hg in meltwater from the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) were reported with bedrock as the proposed source. Reported Hg concentrations were 100 to 1000 times higher than in known freshwater systems of Greenland, calling for independent validation of the extraordinary concentrations and conclusions. Here, we present measurements of Hg at 21 glacial outlets in West Greenland showing that extreme Hg concentrations cannot be reproduced. In contrast, we find that meltwater from below the GrIS is very low in Hg, has minor implications for the global Hg budget, and pose only a very limited risk for local communities and the natural environment of Greenland.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereadi7760
Number of pages8
JournalScience advances
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2024

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate
  • Programme Area 4: Mineral Resources


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