Global Lifetime of Elemental Mercury Against Oxidation by Atomic Bromine in the Free Troposphere
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CitationHolmes, Christopher D., Daniel J. Jacob, and Xin Yang. 2006. Global lifetime of elemental mercury against oxidation by atomic bromine in the free troposphere. Geophysical Research Letters 33: L20808.
AbstractWe calculate the global mean atmospheric lifetime of elemental mercury (Hg0) against oxidation by atomic bromine (Br) in the troposphere by combining recent kinetic data for the Hg-Br system with modeled global concentrations of tropospheric Br. We obtain a lifetime of 0.5–1.7 years based on the range of kinetic data, implying that oxidation of Hg0 by Br is a major, and possibly dominant, global sink for Hg0. Most of the oxidation takes place in the middle and upper troposphere, where Br concentrations are high and where cold temperatures suppress thermal decomposition of the HgBr intermediate. This oxidation mechanism is consistent with mercury observations, including in particular high gaseous Hg(II) concentrations in Antarctic summer. Better free-tropospheric measurements of bromine radicals and further kinetic study of the Hg-Br system are essential to more accurately assess the global importance of Br as an oxidant of atmospheric Hg0.
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