10 Sep 2021

10 Sep 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Odds and ends of atmospheric mercury in Europe and over northern Atlantic Ocean: Temporal trends of 25 years of measurements

Danilo Custódio1, Franz Slemr2, Katrine Aspmo Pfaffhuber3, T. Gerard Spain4, Fidel F. Pankratov5, Iana Strigunova6,8, Koketso Molepo1, Henrik Skov7, Johannes Bieser1, and Ralf Ebinghaus1 Danilo Custódio et al.
  • 1Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon, Institute of Coastal Research, Max-Planck-Str. 1, D-21502 Geesthacht, Germany
  • 2Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
  • 3NILU – Norwegian Institute for Air Research, Kjeller, Norway
  • 4National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
  • 5Institute of Northern Environmental Problems, Kola Science Center, Russian Academy of Sciences, Fersman Str. 14A, Apatity, 184200, Russia
  • 6Meteorological Institute, MI, Universität Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
  • 7Department of Environmental Science, iClimate, Aarhus University, Frederiksborgvej 399, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark
  • 8International Max Planck Research School on Earth System Modelling, Hamburg, Germany

Abstract. The Global Monitoring Plan of the Minamata Convention on Mercury was established to generate long-term data necessary for evaluating the effectiveness of regulatory measures at a global scale. After 25 years monitoring (since 1995), Mace Head is one of the atmospheric monitoring stations with the longest mercury record, and has produced sufficient data for the analysis of temporal trends of Total Gaseous Mercury (TGM) in Europe and the Northern Atlantic. Using concentration-weighted trajectories for atmospheric mercury measured at Mace Head as well as other five locations in Europe, Amderma, Andøya, Villum, Waldhof and Zeppelin we identify the regional probabilistic source contribution factor and its changes for the period of 1996 to 2019.

Temporal trends indicate that concentrations of mercury in the atmosphere in Europe and the Northern Atlantic have declined significantly over the past 25 years, at a non-monotonic rate averaging of 0.03 ng m-3 year-1. Concentrations of TGM at remote marine sites were shown to be affected by continental long-range transport, and evaluation of reanalysis back-trajectories display a significant decrease of TGM in continental air masses from Europe in the last two decades. In addition, using the relationship between mercury and other atmospheric trace gases that could serve as a source signature, we perform factorization regression analysis, based on positive rotatable factorization of non-singular matrix to solve probabilistic mass function. We reconstructed atmospheric mercury concentration and accessed the contribution of the major natural and anthropogenic sources. The positive matrix factorization (PMF) reveals that the downward trend is mainly associated with a factor with a high load of long-lived anthropogenic species.

Danilo Custódio et al.

Status: open (until 22 Oct 2021)

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Danilo Custódio et al.

Danilo Custódio et al.


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Short summary
As a poison in the air that we breathe and the food that we eat, mercury is a human health concern for society as a whole. In that regard, this work is dealing with monitoring and modeling mercury in the environment, improving wherewithal, identifying the strength of the different components at play, and interpreting information to support the efforts that seek to safeguard public health.