Marie Le Bagousse
Ph.D. student
Department of Chemistry
Laval University

Supervised by:

Julien Gigault (Regular member)

Co-supervised by:

Pierre Legagneux (Regular member)

Research project description

Back on traces: Detection of nanoparticles and contaminants from biological archives as markers of the Anthropocene in the high Arctic.

Introduction: Anthropocene is a recent geological era that is not well understood and still difficult to identify. It is accepted that this era corresponds to changes in our planet due to human action. To date, the increase in CO2 compared to pre-industrial levels is one of the most widely used indicators to define this new era. However, it is not sufficient to define ecosystem changes on its own and the search for new indicators is a priority strategy to better predict and understand future changes in the short and medium term. The source, transport, and life cycle of nanoparticles are highly dependent on the global changes that we are currently observing and that are accentuated by human activities. Objectives: To date, there is no data on the presence of nanoparticles in Arctic due to a lack of tools and analytical methods adapted to characterise materials at the nanometric scale. However, due to their properties, nanoparticles and pollutants accumulate in the Arctic, and there are a multitude of hypotheses to explain their presence: ocean currents, atmospheric deposits or local anthropogenic sources. The objective of my research project is therefore to develop analytical methods to characterise the presence of nanoparticles in our Arctic archives characteristic of global change. Behind this main objective, I will seek to demonstrate the influence of humans on these archives and thus on the environment in which they were collected.Study sites: Among these archives, we benefit from a series of unique plant samples (complete time series from 1988 to 2022 at Bylot Island) and animal samples (snow goose and Brünnich's Guillemot eggs from 1999 to 2022) and snow goose feathers from 1865 to 2022. These archives, due to their different spatial and temporal resolutions, are very complementary and should allow us to characterise precisely the human action on our planet and when these effects appeared in the high Arctic. All the samples are already available and come from scientific monitoring on Bylot Island, from samples taken by Inuit communities or from collections from various zoological museums in Canada and the United States. Material and methods: Several methods will be used to identify and quantify the antropic's nanoparticles in the different samples according to their size, shape and source, such as pyrolysis (Py) coupled with gas chromatography (GC), molecular mass spectrometry (MS) or fractionation by flow-force coupling (A4F) Expected results: The results obtained from these different time series will be compared with available information on the main environmental changes of the last 150 years. These results will be returned to Inuit communities in order to inform them of the changes observed in biological samples from their region and to put these results into perspective with their concerns (food security or mining developments for example).

Research Site Coordinates

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