About this Research Topic
The Polar marine environments have gained increasing interest both among the scientific community and society due to, e.g., their importance in the global climate balance, the ice collapse increase, the possibility of exploiting their still almost untouched mineral and biological resources, and the increasing interest of the tourism industry.
Despite their remoteness and inhospitality, the Polar Regions are affected by human impacts including the effects of climate change which will, in turn, affect the other regions. Among these impacts, the transport, distribution, fate, and bioaccumulation of contaminants in this changing world are still to be understood. Taking into account the role of Polar regions in the global climate and ecosystem equilibrium, the good environmental status of Polar marine ecosystems is a priority and a prerequisite for the sustainable development of our planet.
Marine pollutants include a wide variety of inorganic and organic pollutants that are released into the environment by human activities; these pollutants can be natural (e.g. oil and derivate, rare earth and trace elements) and synthesized in the laboratory (e.g. pesticides or flame retardants which are considered persistent organic pollutants), or their by-products. They can enter the marine ecosystems through various pathways and be transported to Polar Regions mainly by air mass and ocean currents. Due to their physical-chemical properties, once above a certain threshold concentration in the organisms, they can elicit toxic effects from molecular to ecosystem levels.
Despite the increasing volume of scientific literature addressing levels and impacts, there is a huge gap in the knowledge on how climate change, in terms of big events or single parameter alterations, may interact with pollutant transport, distribution, fate, and bioaccumulation. This Research Topic aims to provide both a greater understanding of how and to what extent contamination of polar marine ecosystems may be affected by global change and vice versa, and a tool for preserving and recovering marine ecosystems, a starting point for sustainable development.
This Research Topic will focus to update current research fronts on the contamination of marine environments from Pole to Pole in a changing climate. The investigation can evaluate the level, profile, and distribution of pollutants in marine organisms and trophic webs, including commercial species; the fate, distribution, and levels in abiotic compartments; the contaminant global transport; the distribution in the trophic webs; the relationships to climatic parameters; the toxic assessment for organisms including humans and possible risk for consumers. Contributions to fields of marine pollution, ecotoxicology, and environmental chemistry will be welcome.
Original research, Methods, Review, Mini Review, Perspective, Data Report, and Opinion articles by scientists, government and policy-makers, NGOs, and private/industrial organizations will be welcome to examine the global issue of Polar Ocean contamination in a changing world, aiming to provide a unifying and overarching framework into which ecology in the Polar Regions can be integrated with the economy, i.e. sustainable development.
Keywords: Marine pollution, Rare earth and trace elements, Contaminants of emerging concerns, Climate-related effects, Polar Regions
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