Abstract by Alyssa Pope
The affect of subglacial weathering on mercury levels in Greenland
Cycles involving the storage and release of carbon have been found to correlate with the subglacial weathering of two of Greenland’s glaciers, Leverett and Kiattuut Sermiat glacier. Subglacial weathering is the melting of the glacial ice which occurs underneath the glacier or ice sheet. The ecosystem of the river systems that are fed by glacial meltwaters thrive from the key nutrient silica, which acts as a basic building block for these aquatic ecosystems. Leverett glacier is larger so the meltwaters likely stay underneath the ice sheet for a longer period of time, resulting in enhanced silicate weathering. Kiattuut Sermiat is smaller in comparison and dominantly experiences carbonate weathering. The weathering of these glaciers could result in a greater amount of harmful products in the meltwaters, including mercury. Our specific focus on the research will be testing the levels of mercury in samples of meltwaters and melted ice sheet. Since there is a distinct difference between the weathering of the large and small glaciers, the results will be used to indicate if there is a correlation between the weathering of the glaciers and the amounts of mercury in the samples.