Articles | Volume 8, issue 23
09 Dec 2008
 | 09 Dec 2008

Simulation of atmospheric mercury depletion events (AMDEs) during polar springtime using the MECCA box model

Z.-Q. Xie, R. Sander, U. Pöschl, and F. Slemr

Abstract. Atmospheric mercury depletion events (AMDEs) during polar springtime are closely correlated with bromine-catalyzed tropospheric ozone depletion events (ODEs). To study gas- and aqueous-phase reaction kinetics and speciation of mercury during AMDEs, we have included mercury chemistry into the box model MECCA (Module Efficiently Calculating the Chemistry of the Atmosphere), which enables dynamic simulation of bromine activation and ODEs.

We found that the reaction of Hg with Br atoms dominates the loss of gaseous elemental mercury (GEM). To explain the experimentally observed synchronous depletion of GEM and O3, the reaction rate of Hg+BrO has to be much lower than that of Hg+Br. The synchronicity is best reproduced with rate coefficients at the lower limit of the literature values for both reactions, i.e. kHg+Br≈3×10−13 and kHg+BrO≤1×10−15 cm3 molecule−1 s−1, respectively.

Throughout the simulated AMDEs, BrHgOBr was the most abundant reactive mercury species, both in the gas phase and in the aqueous phase. The aqueous-phase concentrations of BrHgOBr, HgBr2, and HgCl2 were several orders of magnitude larger than that of Hg(SO3)22−.

Considering chlorine chemistry outside depletion events (i.e. without bromine activation), the concentration of total divalent mercury in sea-salt aerosol particles (mostly HgCl42−) was much higher than in dilute aqueous droplets (mostly Hg(SO3)22−), and did not exhibit a diurnal cycle (no correlation with HO2 radicals).

Final-revised paper