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Atmospheric gaseous elemental mercury (GEM) concentrations and mercury depositions at a high-altitude mountain peak in south China

by X. W. Fu, X. Feng, Z. Q. Dong, R. S. Yin, J. X. Wang, Z. R. Yang, H. Zhang
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics ()

Abstract

China is regarded as the largest contributor of mercury (Hg) to the global atmospheric Hg budget. How- ever, concentration levels and depositions of atmospheric Hg in China are poorly known. Continuous measurements of atmospheric gaseous elemental mercury (GEM) were car- ried out from May 2008 to May 2009 at the summit of Mt. Leigong in south China. Simultaneously, deposition fluxes of THg and MeHg in precipitation, throughfall and litter- fall were also studied. Atmospheric GEM concentrations av- eraged 2.801.51 ngm3, which was highly elevated com- pared to global background values but much lower than semi- rural and industrial/urban areas in China. Sources identifi- cation indicates that both regional industrial emissions and long range transport of Hg from central, south and southwest China were corresponded to the elevated GEM level. Sea- sonal and diurnal variations of GEM were observed, which reflected variations in source intensity, deposition processes and meteorological factors. Precipitation and throughfall de- position fluxes of THg and MeHg in Mt. Leigong were com- parable or lower compared to those reported in Europe and North America, whereas litterfall deposition fluxes of THg andMeHgwere higher compared to Europe and North Amer- ica. This highlights the importance of vegetation to Hg atmo- spheric cycling. In th remote forest ecosystem of China, de- position of GEM via uptake of foliage followed by litterfall was very important for the depletion of atmospheric Hg. Elevated GEM level in ambient air may accelerate the foliar up- take of Hg through air which may partly explain the elevated litterfall deposition fluxes of Hg observed in Mt. Leigong.

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