Urban source term estimation for mercury using a boundary-layer budget method

Denzler, Basil; Bogdal, Christian; Kern, Cyrill; Tobler, Anna; Huo, Jing; Hungerbühler, Konrad

Mercury is a heavy metal of particular concern due to its adverse effects on human health and the environment. Recognizing this problem, the UN Minamata Convention on Mercury was recently adopted, where signatory countries agreed to reduce anthropogenic mercury emissions. To evaluate the effectiveness of the convention, quantitative knowledge on mercury emissions is crucial. So far, bottom-up approaches have successfully been applied to quantify mercury emission – especially for point sources. Distributed sources make up a large share of the emission; however, they are still poorly characterized. Here, we present a top-down approach to estimate mercury emissions based on atmospheric measurements in the city of Zurich, Switzerland. While monitoring the atmospheric mercury concentrations during inversion periods in Zurich, we were able to relate the concentration increase to the mercury emission strength of the city using a box model. By means of this boundary-layer budget approach, we succeeded in narrowing down the emissions of Zurich to range between inline-formula41±8 kg ainline-formula−1 (upper bound) and inline-formula24±8 kg ainline-formula−1 (lower bound). Thereby, we could quantify emissions from mixed, diffuse and point-like sources and derive an annual mercury per capita emission of 0.06 to 0.10 g ainline-formula−1. The approach presented here has the potential to support authorities in setting up inventories and to validate emission estimations derived from the commonly applied bottom-up approaches. Furthermore, our method is applicable to other compounds and to a wide range of cities or other areas, where sources or sinks for mercury and other atmospheric pollutants are presumed.



Denzler, Basil / Bogdal, Christian / Kern, Cyrill / et al: Urban source term estimation for mercury using a boundary-layer budget method. 2019. Copernicus Publications.


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