RAPID: Origin of Persistent Organic Pollutants in the Antarctic Atmosphere, Snow and Marine Food WEB
Many persistent organic pollutants (POPs), though banned in the U.S. since the 1970s, remain in the environment and continue to reach hitherto pristine regions such as the Arctic and Antarctic. The overall goals of this RAPID project are to better understand the remobilization of POPs from melting glaciers in the Antarctic, and their transfer into the food-web. Legacy POPs have characteristic chemical signatures that will be used ascertain the origin of POPs in the Antarctic atmosphere and marine food-web. Samples that were collected in 2010 will be analyzed for a wide range of legacy POPs, and their behavior will be contrasted with results for emerging contaminants. The intellectual merit of the proposed research combines (a) the use of chemical signatures to assess whether melting glaciers are releasing legacy POPs back into the Antarctic marine ecosystem, and (b) a better understanding of the food-web dynamics of legacy POPs versus emerging organic pollutants.
The broader impacts of the proposed research project will include the training of the next generation of scientists through support for a graduate student and a postdoctoral scholar. As well, this work will result in a better understanding of the relationship between pollutants, trophic food web ecology and global climate change in the pristine Antarctic ecosystem.
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