AbstractThe El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) affects the tropospheric concentrations of many trace gases. Here we investigate the ENSO influence on mercury concentrations measured in the upper troposphere during Civil Aircraft for the Regular Investigation of the atmosphere Based on an Instrumented Container flights and at ground at Cape Point, South Africa, and Mace Head, Ireland. Mercury concentrations cross-correlate with Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) with a lag of 8 ± 2 months. Highest mercury concentrations are always found at the most negative SOI values, i.e., 8 months after El Niño, and the amplitude of the interannual variations fluctuates between ~5 and 18%. The time lag is similar to that of CO whose interannual variations are driven largely by emissions from biomass burning (BB). The amplitude of the interannual variability of tropospheric mercury concentrations is consistent with the estimated variations in mercury emissions from BB. We thus conclude that BB is a major factor driving the interannual variation of tropospheric mercury concentrations.