Evasion of Mercury from coastal and open waters of the Atlantic ocean and the Mediterranean sea
Journal article, 2003

Dissolved gaseous mercury (DGM) was measured in coastal Atlantic seawater and in the Mediterranean Sea. The Atlantic measurements were performed during September 1999 at the Mace Head Atmospheric Research Station, situated on the Irish west coast. The measurements in the Mediterranean Sea were made along a 6000 km cruise path from 14 July to 9 August 2000 in the framework of the Med-Oceanor project. Total gaseous mercury (TGM) concentrations in air were continuously measured with a 5 min time resolution using an automated mercury analyser (Tekran 2537A) during both expeditions. Paired TGM and DGM samples from all campaigns showed that the surface water was supersaturated with elemental mercury. The mercury evasion was estimated using a gas exchange model (J. Geophys. Res. 97 (1992) 7373), which uses salinity, wind speed and water temperature as independent parameters. The predicted average mercury evasion from the coastal Atlantic water was 2.7 ng m−2 h−1 implying that the concentration of TGM in the Atlantic air is enhanced by mercury evasion from the sea. Measurements in different regions of the Mediterranean Sea showed spatial variations in DGM concentrations. The highest DGM concentration (90 pg l−1) was observed at a location in the Strait of Sicily (37°16N 11°52E). The mercury evasion in the eastern sector of the Mediterranean Sea (area: 32–36°N, 17–28°E) was generally higher (7.9 ng m−2 h−1) than that observed in the Tyrrhenian Sea (4.2 ng m−2 h−1) or in the western sector (2.5 ng m−2 h−1) (areas: 38–42°N, 8–13°E and 38–41°N, 7–8°E, respectively). Estimations of mercury evasion were also made at Mediterranean coastal sites using a dynamic chamber technique. In addition, a newly developed method making continuous in situ DGM measurements possible was tested.


Natural sources


Mediterranean Sea


Anthropogenic sources


Katarina Gårdfeldt

University of Gothenburg

J. Sommar

University of Gothenburg

F Ferrara

C Ceccarini

E Lanzilotta

John Munthe

I Wängberg

Dan Strömberg

University of Gothenburg

Oliver Lindqvist

University of Gothenburg

N Pirrone

F. Sprovieri

E Pesenti

Atmospheric Environment

1352-2310 (ISSN) 1873-2844 (eISSN)

Vol. 37 Suppl 1 S73-S84

Subject Categories

Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences

Environmental Sciences

More information