Mercury plumes in the global upper troposphere observed during flights with the CARIBIC observatory from May 2005 until June 2013

Franz Slemr, Andreas Weigelt, Ralf Ebinghaus, Carl Brenninkmeijer, Angela Baker, Tanja Schuck, Armin Rauthe-Schöch, Hella Riede, Emma Leedham, Markus Hermann, Peter Van Velthoven, David Oram, Debbie O'Sullivan, Christoph Dyroff, Andreas Zahn, Helmut Ziereis

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Tropospheric sections of flights with the CARIBIC (Civil Aircraft for Regular Investigation of the Atmosphere Based on an Instrumented Container) observatory from May 2005 until June 2013, are investigated for the occurrence of plumes with elevated Hg concentrations. Additional information on CO, CO, CH, NO, O, hydrocarbons, halocarbons, acetone and acetonitrile enable us to attribute the plumes to biomass burning, urban/industrial sources or a mixture of both. Altogether, 98 pollution plumes with elevated Hg concentrations and CO mixing ratios were encountered, and the Hg/CO emission ratios for 49 of them could be calculated. Most of the plumes were found overEast Asia, in the African equatorial region, over South America and over Pakistan and India. The plumes encountered over equatorial Africa and over South America originate predominantly from biomass burning, as evidenced by the low Hg/CO emission ratios andelevated mixing ratios of acetonitrile, CHCl and particle concentrations. The backward trajectories point to the regions around the Rift Valley and the Amazon Basin, with its outskirts, as the source areas. The plumes encountered over East Asia and over Pakistan and India are predominantly of urban/industrial origin, sometimes mixed with products of biomass/biofuel burning. Backward trajectories point mostly to source areas in China andnorthern India. The Hg/CO and Hg/CH emission ratios for several plumes are also presented and discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-369
Number of pages28
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2014

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