Sunday, 11 January 2009
Spatial database analysis of atmospheric deposition and terrestrial accumulation of mercury within Acadia National Park
Phoenix Convention Center
Acadia National Park (ANP), located on the coastal Mount Desert Island in Maine, lacks any major point source of mercury (Hg), but the biota has some of the highest body burdens of Hg in the United States. This dichotomy has sparked millions of dollars of research and a myriad of theories on Hg transfer dynamics between inorganic and organic pools and on Hg bioaccumulation and biomagnification across trophic levels. Specific studies have analyzed Hg in soils, or surface waters, or deposition, or biota, but none have yet considered a database approach in which these data become an integrated information system. The island location of ANP provides a natural boundary for non-atmospheric Hg pools, and the national park setting has fostered research focused on preserving park resources. This combination of known land-use history, clear biogeochemical boundaries, and intense Hg research creates an excellent template for building data analysis systems. As such, data from several independent research projects have been collated and spatially referenced within a geographic information system (GIS). Mapping and data mining have elucidated source-sink relationships between non-point source deposition of mercury and the accumulation in ecosystem compartments. Spatial analysis has identified data gaps and Hg sensing needs for specific ecological compartments and may lead to more efficient sampling and greater understanding of Hg fate and transport across spatial and temporal scales.