Comparison of long-term trends and seasonal variations of atmospheric mercury concentrations at the two European coastal monitoring stations Mace Head, Ireland, and Zingst, Germany


Monitoring of total gaseous mercury (TGM) concentrations has been carried out at Mace Head on the west coast of Ireland and at Zingst on the southern shore-line of the Baltic Sea. We have used the continuous measurements to assess long-term trends and seasonal variations of TGM concentrations over the same time period. Between 1998 and 2004 the annually averaged TGM concentrations measured at Mace Head (1.72 ng m−3) and Zingst (1.66 ng m−3) remained fairly stable. At both stations we measured higher TGM levels during winter months and lower concentrations during summer months. We also observed an unexpected West to East gradient and found that the overall mean Mace Head TGM concentration was 0.06 ng m−3 higher than those of Zingst. For the January to June period, the Mace Head TGM values (6-year mean=1.75 ng m−3) are significantly elevated compared to the Zingst results (6-year mean=1.64 ng m−3). Since no local anthropogenic mercury sources exist near the Mace Head station, enhanced emission from the sea appears to provide the most probable explanation for the observed differences. Multiple regression analysis with the atmospheric mercury concentrations measured at Zingst were made with selected meteorological and air quality parameters (wind component, dew point, dust and NOx concentrations). The short-term variation in the TGM concentrations at Zingst shows a strong positive correlation with weather conditions and selected air quality parameters, making TGM a usable tracer of air masses originating from different source regions.
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