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Development and application of a regional-scale atmospheric mercury model based on WRF/Chem: a Mediterranean area investigation

November 12, 2013

The emission, transport, deposition and eventual fate of mercury (Hg) in the Mediterranean area has been studied using a modified version of the Weather Research and Forecasting model coupled with Chemistry (WRF/Chem). This model version has been developed specifically with the aim to simulate the atmospheric processes determining atmospheric Hg emissions, concentrations and deposition online at high spatial resolution. For this purpose, the gas phase chemistry of Hg and a parametrised representation of atmospheric Hg aqueous chemistry have been added to the regional acid deposition model version 2 chemical mechanism in WRF/Chem. Anthropogenic mercury emissions from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme included in the emissions preprocessor, mercury evasion from the sea surface and Hg released from biomass burning have also been included. Dry and wet deposition processes for Hg have been implemented. The model has been tested for the whole of 2009 using measurements of total gaseous mercury from the European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme monitoring network. Speciated measurement data of atmospheric elemental Hg, gaseous oxidised Hg and Hg associated with particulate matter, from a Mediterranean oceanographic campaign (June 2009), has permitted the model’s ability to simulate the atmospheric redox chemistry of Hg to be assessed. The model results highlight the importance of both the boundary conditions employed and the accuracy of the mercury speciation in the emission database. The model has permitted the reevaluation of the deposition to, and the emission from, the Mediterranean Sea. In light of the well-known high concentrations of methylmercury in a number of Mediterranean fish species, this information is important in establishing the mass balance of Hg for the Mediterranean Sea. The model results support the idea that the Mediterranean Sea is a net source of Hg to the atmosphere and suggest that the net flux is ≈30 Mg year−1 of elemental Hg.

Gencarelli C N, De Simone F, Hedgecock I M, Sprovieri F, Pirrone N, in press. Development and application of a regional-scale atmospheric mercury model based on WRF/Chem: a Mediterranean area investigation, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 2013, doi:10.1007/s11356-013-2162-3. Article.

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