Statistical exploration of gaseous elemental mercury (GEM) measured at Cape Point from 2007 to 2011
- 1Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
- 2South African Weather Service, P.O. Box 320, Stellenbosch 7599, South Africa
- 3Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie, Hahn-Meitner-Weg 1, 55128 Mainz, Germany
- 4Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Institute of Coastal Research, Max-Planck-Strasse, 21502 Geesthacht, Germany
Abstract. The authors evaluated continuous high-resolution gaseous elemental mercury (GEM) data from the Cape Point Global Atmosphere Watch (CPT GAW) station with different statistical analysis techniques. GEM data were evaluated by cluster analysis and the results indicated that two clusters, separated at 0.904 ng m−3, existed. The air mass history for the two-cluster solution was investigated by means of back-trajectory analysis. The air mass back-trajectory net result showed lower GEM concentrations originating from the sparsely populated semi-arid interior of South Africa and the marine environment, whereas higher GEM concentrations originated predominately along the coast of South Africa that most likely coincide with trade routes and industrial activities in urban areas along the coast. Considering the net result from the air mass back-trajectories, it is evident that not all low GEM concentrations are from marine origin, and similarly, not all high GEM concentrations have a terrestrial origin. Equations were developed by means of multi-linear regression (MLR) analysis that allowed for the estimation and/or prediction of atmospheric GEM concentrations from other atmospheric parameters measured at the CPT GAW station. These equations also provided some insight into the relation and interaction of GEM with other atmospheric parameters. Both measured and MLR calculated data confirm a decline in GEM concentrations at CPT GAW over the period evaluated.