Researchers have found that the removal of perennial sea ice leads to accumulation of saltier ice, leading to bromine reaction resulting in the change of gaseous mercury to a toxic pollutant.
"Shrinking summer sea ice has drawn much attention to exploiting Arctic resources and improving maritime trading routes," Nghiem said.
"But the change in sea ice composition also has impacts on the environment," he said. "Changing conditions in the Arctic might increase bromine explosions in the future.”
Researchers are trying to find out the reason of the Arctic’s loss of one million square kilometers of perennial sea ice over the past decade. It has been suggested that this is due to the changing wind patterns over that time period.
It has been found that in March 2008, there was a 50 year low record of year-round perennial sea ice, shrinking by an area equivalent to the combined size of Arizona and Texas.
Ngheim said that the bromine explosion could be increased, “if sea ice continues to be dominated by younger saltier ice, and Arctic extreme cold spells occur more often”.