The world’s largest reservoir of mercury lies in Arctic permafrost, the layer of frozen soil that’s at risk of thawing because of warming temperatures, The Washington Post reports. Scientists drilled permafrost cores in 13 locations across Alaska and measured the mercury contained in them. Based on those measurements, they estimate that 1.7 million tons of mercury are trapped in permafrost soils across the Northern Hemisphere—more than what’s found in all other soils, the atmosphere, and the ocean combined, the team reports in Geophysical Research Letters. The mercury is there naturally, a result of plants not fully decomposing in harsh northern climates.
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