Great Lakes Region

Geographical Distribution of 2005 Atmospheric Mercury Deposition Contributions to Lake Erie

Mercury contamination can cause significant damage to human and wildlife health. For this reason, the high mercury levels that persist in the Great Lakes have long been a concern to scientists, public health officials, natural resource managers, and citizens alike. Statewide mercury-related fish consumption advisories are present in each of the states bordering the Great Lakes, and mercury-related consumption advisories are also present for some specific Great Lakes fish.

With support from the GLRI, NOAA is working to answer several key questions about mercury loading and contamination in the Great Lakes. Atmospheric deposition is believed to be the largest current mercury loading pathway to the Great Lakes. NOAA has enhanced its HYSPLIT global atmospheric “fate and transport” model to estimate the amount of mercury deposited in the Great Lakes and its watersheds, as well as the relative importance of different sources and regions contributing to this deposition. The model incorporates factors such as the levels of atmospheric mercury emissions around the globe and what happens to mercury after it is emitted; it also addresses mercury deposition in the Great Lakes under different future scenarios for regional, national, and international mercury emissions.

Findings have important implications for the health of humans, fish, wildlife, and the entire Great Lakes ecosystem. They can also provide a critical scientific basis for developing policies to reduce mercury loading in the Great Lakes. You can download a complete report of results from the first three years of GLRI funding:

FY 2010 report: Modeling Atmospheric Mercury Deposition to the Great Lakes

FY 2011 report: Examination of the Influence of Variations in Model Inputs, Parameters, and Algorithms on Model Results

FY 2012 report: Projected Consequences of Alternative Future Emissions Scenarios

GLRI Funding:
FY 2010: $200,000
FY 2011: $190,000
FY 2012: $160,400
FY 2013: $76,000
FY 2014: $98,200
FY 2015: $98,200

For more information, please contact:
Mark Cohen, Physical Scientist
NOAA Air Resources Laboratory
Phone: (301) 683-1397

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