Articles | Volume 14, issue 2
Research article
28 Jan 2014
Research article |  | 28 Jan 2014

Estimates of tropical bromoform emissions using an inversion method

M. J. Ashfold, N. R. P. Harris, A. J. Manning, A. D. Robinson, N. J. Warwick, and J. A. Pyle

Abstract. Bromine plays an important role in ozone chemistry in both the troposphere and stratosphere. When measured by mass, bromoform (CHBr3) is thought to be the largest organic source of bromine to the atmosphere. While seaweed and phytoplankton are known to be dominant sources, the size and the geographical distribution of CHBr3 emissions remains uncertain. Particularly little is known about emissions from the Maritime Continent, which have usually been assumed to be large, and which appear to be especially likely to reach the stratosphere. In this study we aim to reduce this uncertainty by combining the first multi-annual set of CHBr3 measurements from this region, and an inversion process, to investigate systematically the distribution and magnitude of CHBr3 emissions. The novelty of our approach lies in the application of the inversion method to CHBr3. We find that local measurements of a short-lived gas like CHBr3 can be used to constrain emissions from only a relatively small, sub-regional domain. We then obtain detailed estimates of CHBr3 emissions within this area, which appear to be relatively insensitive to the assumptions inherent in the inversion process. We extrapolate this information to produce estimated emissions for the entire tropics (defined as 20° S–20° N) of 225 Gg CHBr3 yr−1. The ocean in the area we base our extrapolations upon is typically somewhat shallower, and more biologically productive, than the tropical average. Despite this, our tropical estimate is lower than most other recent studies, and suggests that CHBr3 emissions in the coastline-rich Maritime Continent may not be stronger than emissions in other parts of the tropics.

Final-revised paper