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Observed decrease in atmospheric mercury explained by global decline in anthropogenic emissions.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Jan 19; 113(3):526-31.PN

Abstract

Observations of elemental mercury (Hg(0)) at sites in North America and Europe show large decreases (∼ 1-2% y(-1)) from 1990 to present. Observations in background northern hemisphere air, including Mauna Loa Observatory (Hawaii) and CARIBIC (Civil Aircraft for the Regular Investigation of the atmosphere Based on an Instrument Container) aircraft flights, show weaker decreases (<1% y(-1)). These decreases are inconsistent with current global emission inventories indicating flat or increasing emissions over that period. However, the inventories have three major flaws: (i) they do not account for the decline in atmospheric release of Hg from commercial products; (ii) they are biased in their estimate of artisanal and small-scale gold mining emissions; and (iii) they do not properly account for the change in Hg(0)/Hg(II) speciation of emissions from coal-fired utilities after implementation of emission controls targeted at SO2 and NOx. We construct an improved global emission inventory for the period 1990 to 2010 accounting for the above factors and find a 20% decrease in total Hg emissions and a 30% decrease in anthropogenic Hg(0) emissions, with much larger decreases in North America and Europe offsetting the effect of increasing emissions in Asia. Implementation of our inventory in a global 3D atmospheric Hg simulation [GEOS-Chem (Goddard Earth Observing System-Chemistry)] coupled to land and ocean reservoirs reproduces the observed large-scale trends in atmospheric Hg(0) concentrations and in Hg(II) wet deposition. The large trends observed in North America and Europe reflect the phase-out of Hg from commercial products as well as the cobenefit from SO2 and NOx emission controls on coal-fired utilities.

Authors+Show Affiliations

John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138; yxzhang@seas.harvard.edu.John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138; Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138;John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138;John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138; College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China;John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138;US Geological Survey, Wisconsin Water Science Center, Middleton, WI 53562;Department of Atmospheric Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz 55128, Germany;Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2R3;John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138; Department of Environmental Health, T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University, Boston, MA 02115.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

Language

eng

PubMed ID

26729866

Citation

Zhang, Yanxu, et al. "Observed Decrease in Atmospheric Mercury Explained By Global Decline in Anthropogenic Emissions." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 113, no. 3, 2016, pp. 526-31.
Zhang Y, Jacob DJ, Horowitz HM, et al. Observed decrease in atmospheric mercury explained by global decline in anthropogenic emissions. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016;113(3):526-31.
Zhang, Y., Jacob, D. J., Horowitz, H. M., Chen, L., Amos, H. M., Krabbenhoft, D. P., Slemr, F., St Louis, V. L., & Sunderland, E. M. (2016). Observed decrease in atmospheric mercury explained by global decline in anthropogenic emissions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(3), 526-31. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1516312113
Zhang Y, et al. Observed Decrease in Atmospheric Mercury Explained By Global Decline in Anthropogenic Emissions. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Jan 19;113(3):526-31. PubMed PMID: 26729866.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Observed decrease in atmospheric mercury explained by global decline in anthropogenic emissions. AU - Zhang,Yanxu, AU - Jacob,Daniel J, AU - Horowitz,Hannah M, AU - Chen,Long, AU - Amos,Helen M, AU - Krabbenhoft,David P, AU - Slemr,Franz, AU - St Louis,Vincent L, AU - Sunderland,Elsie M, Y1 - 2016/01/04/ PY - 2016/1/6/entrez PY - 2016/1/6/pubmed PY - 2016/6/14/medline KW - atmosphere KW - emission KW - mercury KW - trend SP - 526 EP - 31 JF - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America JO - Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A VL - 113 IS - 3 N2 - Observations of elemental mercury (Hg(0)) at sites in North America and Europe show large decreases (∼ 1-2% y(-1)) from 1990 to present. Observations in background northern hemisphere air, including Mauna Loa Observatory (Hawaii) and CARIBIC (Civil Aircraft for the Regular Investigation of the atmosphere Based on an Instrument Container) aircraft flights, show weaker decreases (<1% y(-1)). These decreases are inconsistent with current global emission inventories indicating flat or increasing emissions over that period. However, the inventories have three major flaws: (i) they do not account for the decline in atmospheric release of Hg from commercial products; (ii) they are biased in their estimate of artisanal and small-scale gold mining emissions; and (iii) they do not properly account for the change in Hg(0)/Hg(II) speciation of emissions from coal-fired utilities after implementation of emission controls targeted at SO2 and NOx. We construct an improved global emission inventory for the period 1990 to 2010 accounting for the above factors and find a 20% decrease in total Hg emissions and a 30% decrease in anthropogenic Hg(0) emissions, with much larger decreases in North America and Europe offsetting the effect of increasing emissions in Asia. Implementation of our inventory in a global 3D atmospheric Hg simulation [GEOS-Chem (Goddard Earth Observing System-Chemistry)] coupled to land and ocean reservoirs reproduces the observed large-scale trends in atmospheric Hg(0) concentrations and in Hg(II) wet deposition. The large trends observed in North America and Europe reflect the phase-out of Hg from commercial products as well as the cobenefit from SO2 and NOx emission controls on coal-fired utilities. SN - 1091-6490 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/26729866/Observed_decrease_in_atmospheric_mercury_explained_by_global_decline_in_anthropogenic_emissions_ L2 - http://www.pnas.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&amp;pmid=26729866 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -