Transport of contaminants to the Arctic - atmospheric and acquatic transport
Changes in snow, ice and permafrost affect how contaminants enter and leave the Arctic, and how they move around within the Arctic.
Contaminants from the major source regions in the northern mid-latitudes are mostly carried into the Arctic by the prevailing winds and ocean currents.
Contaminants found in the Arctic include heavy metals, radioactive compounds, black carbon (soot from fires or other industrial activity) and man-made chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants that remain stable in the environment for long periods of time. Most of these result from human activities outside the region. They are carried north by air and ocean currents. Once in the Arctic, many remain locked in surface soils, water, ice and sediments.