Constraints from observations and modeling on atmosphere–surface exchange of mercury in eastern North America

Song, S., N.E. Selin, L.E. Gratz, J.L. Ambrose, D.A. Jaffe, V. Shah, L. Jaeglé, A. Giang, B. Yuan, L. Kaser, E.C. Apel, R.S. Hornbrook, N.J. Blake, A.J. Weinheimer, R.L. Mauldin III, C.A. Cantrell, M.S. Castro, G. Conley, T.M. Holsen, W.T. Luke and R. Talbot
Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene, 4: 000100

Atmosphere–surface exchange of mercury, although a critical component of its global cycle, is currently poorly constrained. Here we use the GEOS-Chem chemical transport model to interpret atmospheric Hg0(gaseous elemental mercury) data collected during the 2013 summer Nitrogen, Oxidants, Mercury and Aerosol Distributions, Sources and Sinks (NOMADSS) aircraft campaign as well as ground- and ship-based observations in terms of their constraints on the atmosphere–surface exchange of Hg0 over eastern North America. Model–observation comparison suggests that the Northwest Atlantic may be a net source of Hg0, with high evasion fluxes in summer (our best sensitivity simulation shows an average oceanic Hg0 flux of 3.3 ng m-2 h-1 over the Northwest Atlantic), while the terrestrial ecosystem in the summer of the eastern United States is likely a net sink of Hg0 (our best sensitivity simulation shows an average terrestrial Hg0 flux of -0.6 ng m-2 h-1 over the eastern United States). The inferred high Hg0 fluxes from the Northwest Atlantic may result from high wet deposition fluxes of oxidized Hg, which are in turn related to high precipitation rates in this region. We also find that increasing simulated terrestrial fluxes of Hg0 in spring compared to other seasons can better reproduce observed seasonal variability of Hg0 concentration at ground-based sites in eastern North America.