Identifying and characterizing major emission point sources as a basis for geospatial distribution of mercury emissions inventories

  • Steenhuisen F
  • Wilson S
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Mercury is a global pollutant that poses threats to ecosystem and human health. Due to its global transport, mercury contamination is found in regions of the Earth that are remote from major emissions areas, including the Polar regions. Global anthropogenic emission inventories identify important sectors and industries responsible for emissions at a national level; however, to be useful for air transport modelling, more precise information on the locations of emission is required. This paper describes the methodology applied, and the results of work that was conducted to assign anthropogenic mercury emissions to point sources as part of geospatial mapping of the 2010 global anthropogenic mercury emissions inventory prepared by AMAP/UNEP. Major point-source emission sectors addressed in this work account for about 850 tonnes of the emissions included in the 2010 inventory. This work allocated more than 90% of these emissions to some 4600 identified point source locations, including significantly more point source locations in Africa, Asia, Australia and South America than had been identified during previous work to geospatially-distribute the 2005 global inventory. The results demonstrate the utility and the limitations of using existing, mainly public domain resources to accomplish this work. Assumptions necessary to make use of selected online resources are discussed, as are artefacts that can arise when these assumptions are applied to assign (national-sector) emissions estimates to point sources in various countries and regions. Notwithstanding the limitations of the available information, the value of this procedure over alternative methods commonly used to geo-spatially distribute emissions, such as use of 'proxy' datasets to represent emissions patterns, is illustrated. Improvements in information that would facilitate greater use of these methods in future work to assign emissions to point-sources are discussed. These include improvements to both national (geo-referenced) emission inventories and also to other resources that can be employed when such national inventories are lacking.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Emissions
  • Geospatial-distribution
  • Global
  • Inventory
  • Mercury
  • Point-sources

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