CARIBIC observations of gaseous mercury in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere


A unique set of gaseous mercury measurements in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UT/LS) has been obtained during the monthly CARIBIC ( flights since May 2005. The passenger Airbus 340-600 of Lufthansa covered routes to the Far East, North America, India, and the southern hemisphere. The accompanying measurements of CO, O3, NOy, H2O, aerosols, halocarbons, hydrocarbons, greenhouse gases, and several other parameters as well as backward trajectories enable a detailed analysis of these measurements. Speciation tests have shown that the CARIBIC measurements represent a good approximation of total gaseous mercury (TGM) concentrations. Above the tropopause TGM always decrease with increasing potential vorticity (PV) and O3 which implies its conversion to particle bound mercury. The observation of the lowest TGM concentrations at the highest particle concentrations in the stratosphere provides further evidence for such conversion. We will show how a seasonally dependent conversion rate could be derived using concomitantly measured SF6 mixing ratios as a timer. Tropospheric mercury data suggest the existence of a decreasing trend in the northern hemisphere whose size is comparable with the trend derived from long-term measurements by ship cruises, at Cape Point (South Africa) and Mace Head (Ireland).
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