The Atmospheric Mercury Network: Measurement and initial examination of an ongoing atmospheric mercury record across North America
The National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) developed and operates a collaborative network of atmospheric-mercury-monitoring sites based in North America - the Atmospheric Mercury Network (AMNet). The justification for the network was growing interest and demand from many scientists and policy makers for a robust database of measurements to improve model development, assess policies and programs, and improve estimates of mercury dry deposition. Many different agencies and groups support the network, including federal, state, tribal, and international governments, academic institutions, and private companies. AMNet has added two high-elevation sites outside of continental North America in Hawaii and Taiwan because of new partnerships forged within NADP. Network sites measure concentrations of atmospheric mercury fractions using automated, continuous mercury speciation systems. The procedures that NADP developed for field operations, data management, and quality assurance ensure that the network makes scientifically valid and consistent measurements. AMNet reports concentrations of hourly gaseous elemental mercury (GEM), two-hour gaseous oxidized mercury (GOM), and two-hour particulate-bound mercury less than 2.5 microns in size (PBM2.5). As of January 2012, over 450 000 valid observations are available from 30 stations. AMNet also collects ancillary meteorological data and information on land use and vegetation, when available. We present atmospheric mercury data comparisons by time (3 yr) at 21 individual sites and instruments. Highlighted are contrasting values for site locations across the network: urban versus rural, coastal versus high elevation and the range of maximum observations. The data presented should catalyze the formation of many scientific questions that may be answered through further in-depth analysis and modeling studies of the AMNet database. All data and methods are publically available through an online database on the NADP website (http://nadp.sws.uiuc.edu/amn/). Future network directions are to foster new network partnerships and continue to collect, quality assure, and post data, including dry deposition estimates, for each fraction.