07 Dec 2022
07 Dec 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Unexpectedly high concentrations of atmospheric mercury species in Lhasa, the largest city on the Tibetan Plateau

Huiming Lin1, Yindong Tong2,3, Long Chen4, Chenghao Yu5, Zhaohan Chu1, Qianru Zhang1, Xiufeng Yin6, Qianggong Zhang7,8, Shichang Kang6,8, Junfeng Liu1, James Schauer9,10, Benjamin de Foy11, and Xuejun Wang1 Huiming Lin et al.
  • 1MOE Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • 2School of Science, Tibet University, Lhasa 850000, China
  • 3School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Tianjin University, Tianjin, 300072, China
  • 4School of Geographic Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
  • 5Key Laboratory of Microbial Technology for Industrial Pollution Control of Zhejiang Province, College of Environment, Zhejiang University of Technology, Hangzhou 310014, China
  • 6State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Science, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
  • 7Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environment Changes and Land Surface Processes, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100101, China
  • 8CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences, Beijing, 100085, China
  • 9Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA
  • 10Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI, USA
  • 11Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO, 63108, USA

Abstract. Lhasa City is located in the central Tibetan Plateau and is the most densely populated area. As the first continuous monitoring of atmospheric mercury (Hg) species in a city on the Tibetan Plateau, our monitoring in Lhasa showed that the concentrations of gaseous elemental Hg (GEM), gaseous oxidized Hg (GOM), and particle-bound Hg (PBM) during subsequent of the Indian Summer Monsoon (S-ISM) period were 2.73 ± 1.48 ng m-3, 38.4 ± 62.7 pg m-3, and 59.1 ± 181.0 pg m-3, respectively. During the Westerly Circulation (WEC) period, the GEM, GOM and PBM concentrations were 2.11 ± 2.09 ng m-3, 35.8 ± 43.3 pg m-3, and 52.9 ± 90.1 pg m-3, respectively. The atmospheric Hg species concentrations were higher than those of previous monitoring on the Tibetan Plateau and other provincial capitals in China. Typical high-value occurrence processes were studied to investigate random events with high atmospheric Hg concentrations in Lhasa. Combustion event nearby or further away may be the main contributor of the high-concentration events. The lowest GEM concentrations occurred in the afternoon and persistently high concentrations were observed at night. The changes in GEM concentrations were consistent with the trends of other pollutant concentrations and contradictory to those of the wind speed. The high GEM concentrations at night can be attributed to the lower boundary layer height and lower wind speed. For both GOM and PBM, higher GOM concentrations occurred during the day and PBM during the night. The results of the principal component analysis indicated that local sources and wind speed are important factors influencing atmospheric Hg concentrations in Lhasa. The trajectory simulation showed that the source of the GEM in Lhasa gradually shifted from the south to the west of Lhasa from the S-ISM to the WEC periods, while both the southern and western sources were important in the late WEC period. The concentrations and change patterns of Hg species in Lhasa were significantly different than those at other monitoring sites on the Tibetan Plateau. Monitoring Hg species in Lhasa shows the possible maximum anthropogenic influences on the Tibetan Plateau and demonstrates the dramatic effect of wind on changes in urban atmospheric Hg concentrations.

Huiming Lin et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2022-750', Yanxu Zhang, 28 Dec 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on acp-2022-750', Anonymous Referee #1, 04 Jan 2023

Huiming Lin et al.

Huiming Lin et al.


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Short summary
Lhasa is the largest city on the Tibetan Plateau and its atmospheric mercury concentrations represent the highest level of pollution in this region. Unexpectedly high concentrations of atmospheric mercury species were found. Combined with the trajectory analysis, the high atmospheric mercury concentrations may have originated from external long-range transport. Local sources, especially special mercury-related sources, are important factors influencing the variability of atmospheric mercury.