Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Comparisons of mercury sources and atmospheric mercury processes between a coastal and inland site

Authors


Corresponding author: L. Zhang, Air Quality Research Division, Science and Technology Branch, Environment Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M3H 5T4. (leiming.zhang@ec.gc.ca).

Abstract

[1] Comparisons of mercury sources and atmospheric mercury processes were conducted between a coastal and inland site in northeastern North America. Identifying sources of atmospheric Hg is essential for understanding what is potentially contributing to Hg bioaccumulation at these two sites. A data set consisting of gaseous elemental mercury (GEM), gaseous oxidized mercury (GOM), particle-bound mercury, ozone, trace gases, particulate ions, and meteorological data were analyzed using principal components analysis (PCA), absolute principal component scores (APCS), and back trajectories. The PCA factors representing gaseous Hg condensation on particles during winter and combustion and industrial sources were found at both sites. However, the PCA factor for combustion/industrial sources was not found in 2010 at either site, likely because of SO2 emissions reductions from coal utilities from 2008 to 2010. Using APCS and back trajectories, the combustion/industrial factor at the coastal site was narrowed down to shipping ports along the Atlantic coast. Hg sources affecting coastal sites are different from those affecting inland sites because of the influence of marine airflows. GEM evasion from the ocean was evident from a PCA factor containing GEM, relative humidity, wind speed, and precipitation along with significantly higher contributions of this source (APCS) from oceanic trajectories compared to land/coastal trajectories. Analysis of the effects of ozone and water vapor mixing ratio on %GOM/total gaseous mercury suggest that Hg-Br photochemistry occurred at lower ozone concentrations (<40 ppb) at the coastal site and the absence of free troposphere transport of GOM.

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