The influence of climate change on the global distribution and fate processes of anthropogenic persistent organic pollutants
The effect of climate change on the global distribution and fate of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is of growing interest to both scientists and policy makers alike. The impact of warmer temperatures and the resulting changes to earth system processes on chemical fate are, however, unclear, although there are a growing number of studies that are beginning to examine these impacts and changes in a quantitative way. In this review, we examine broad areas where changes are occurring or are likely to occur with regard to the environmental cycling and fate of chemical contaminants. For this purpose we are examining scientific information from long-term monitoring data with particular emphasis on the Arctic, to show apparent changes in chemical patterns and behaviour. In addition, we examine evidence of changing chemical processes for a number of environmental compartments and indirect effects of climate change on contaminant emissions and behaviour. We also recommend areas of research to address knowledge gaps. In general, our findings indicate that the indirect consequences of climate change (i.e. shifts in agriculture, resource exploitation opportunities, etc.) will have a more marked impact on contaminants distribution and fate than direct climate change.