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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-63
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-63
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  20 Feb 2020

20 Feb 2020

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A revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal ACP and is expected to appear here in due course.

Atmospheric mercury in the Southern Hemisphere – Part 2: Source apportionment analysis at Cape Point station, South Africa

Johannes Bieser1, Hélène Angot2, Franz Slemr3,1, and Lynwill Martin4 Johannes Bieser et al.
  • 1Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht (HZG), Institute of Coastal Research, Max-Planck-Str. 1, D-21502 Geesthacht, Germany
  • 2Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 3Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie (MPI), Air Chemistry Division, Hahn-Meitner-Weg 1, D-55128 Mainz, Germany
  • 4South African Weather Service c/o CSIR, P.O. Box 320, Stellenbosch 7599, South Africa

Abstract. Mercury (Hg) contamination is ubiquitous. In order to assess its emissions, transport, atmospheric reactivity, and deposition pathways, Hg monitoring stations have been implemented on a global scale over the past 10–20 years. Despite this significant step forward, the monitoring efforts have been insufficient to fulfill our understanding of Hg cycling in the Southern Hemisphere. While oceans make up 80 % of the Southern Hemisphere's surface area, little is known about the effects of oceans on Hg cycling in this region. For instance, in the context of growing interest in effectiveness evaluation of Hg mitigation policies, the relative contribution of anthropogenic and legacy emissions to present-day atmospheric Hg levels is unclear. This paper constitutes Part 2 of the study describing a decade of atmospheric Hg concentrations at Cape Point, South Africa, i.e. the first long-term (> 10 years) observations in the Southern Hemisphere. Building on the trend analysis reported in Part 1, here we combine atmospheric Hg data with a trajectory model to investigate sources and sinks of Hg at Cape Point. We find that the continent is the major sink and the Ocean, especially warm regions, is the major source for Hg.

Further, we find that mercury concentrations and trends from long range transport are independent of the source region (e.g. South America, Antarctica) and thus indistinguishable. Therefor, by filtering out air masses from source and sink regions we are able to create a dataset representing a southern hemispheric background Hg concentrations. Based on this dataset we were able to show that the inter-annual variability of Hg concentrations is not driven by changes in atmospheric circulation but rather due to changes in global emissions (gold mining and biomass burning).

Johannes Bieser et al.

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Johannes Bieser et al.

Johannes Bieser et al.

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Latest update: 11 Aug 2020
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Short summary
We use computer models to determine the origin of air masses measured for mercury (Hg) at Cape Point (CPT), South Africa. For this, we use ten years of hourly Hg measurements from 2007 to 2016. Based on the Hg concentration and the origin of the air mass, we identify source and sink regions for mercury at CPT. We find, that the warm ocean current to the south-east is the major Hg source and the continent the major sink.
We use computer models to determine the origin of air masses measured for mercury (Hg) at Cape...
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