Journal cover Journal topic
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 6095-6111, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
16 Jul 2012
Nested-grid simulation of mercury over North America
Y. Zhang1, L. Jaeglé1, A. van Donkelaar2, R. V. Martin2,3, C. D. Holmes4, H. M. Amos5, Q. Wang6, R. Talbot7, R. Artz8, S. Brooks8, W. Luke8, T. M. Holsen9, D. Felton10, E. K. Miller11, K. D. Perry12, D. Schmeltz13, A. Steffen14, R. Tordon14, P. Weiss-Penzias15, and R. Zsolway16 1Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
2Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada
3Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
4Department of Earth System Sciences, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA
5Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA
6School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA
7Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA
8NOAA Air Resources Laboratory, Silver Spring, MD, USA
9Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY, USA
10New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Air Resources, Albany, NY, USA
11Ecosystems Research Group, Norwich, VT, USA
12Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
13Office of Atmospheric Programs, US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington DC, USA
14Environment Canada, Air Quality Research Division, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
15Department of Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA, USA
16Division of Environmental Regulation, Bureau of Air Quality Monitoring, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Trenton, NJ, USA
Abstract. We have developed a new nested-grid mercury (Hg) simulation over North America with a 1/2° latitude by 2/3° longitude horizontal resolution employing the GEOS-Chem global chemical transport model. Emissions, chemistry, deposition, and meteorology are self-consistent between the global and nested domains. Compared to the global model (4° latitude by 5° longitude), the nested model shows improved skill at capturing the high spatial and temporal variability of Hg wet deposition over North America observed by the Mercury Deposition Network (MDN) in 2008–2009. The nested simulation resolves features such as higher deposition due to orographic precipitation, land/ocean contrast and and predicts more efficient convective rain scavenging of Hg over the southeast United States. However, the nested model overestimates Hg wet deposition over the Ohio River Valley region (ORV) by 27%. We modify anthropogenic emission speciation profiles in the US EPA National Emission Inventory (NEI) to account for the rapid in-plume reduction of reactive to elemental Hg (IPR simulation). This leads to a decrease in the model bias to −2.3% over the ORV region. Over the contiguous US, the correlation coefficient (r) between MDN observations and our IPR simulation increases from 0.60 to 0.78. The IPR nested simulation generally reproduces the seasonal cycle in surface concentrations of speciated Hg from the Atmospheric Mercury Network (AMNet) and Canadian Atmospheric Mercury Network (CAMNet). In the IPR simulation, annual mean gaseous and particulate-bound Hg(II) are within 140% and 11% of observations, respectively. In contrast, the simulation with unmodified anthropogenic Hg speciation profiles overestimates these observations by factors of 4 and 2 for gaseous and particulate-bound Hg(II), respectively. The nested model shows improved skill at capturing the horizontal variability of Hg observed over California during the ARCTAS aircraft campaign. The nested model suggests that North American anthropogenic emissions account for 10–22% of Hg wet deposition flux over the US, depending on the anthropogenic emissions speciation profile assumed. The modeled percent contribution can be as high as 60% near large point sources in ORV. Our results indicate that the North American anthropogenic contribution to dry deposition is 13–20%.

Citation: Zhang, Y., Jaeglé, L., van Donkelaar, A., Martin, R. V., Holmes, C. D., Amos, H. M., Wang, Q., Talbot, R., Artz, R., Brooks, S., Luke, W., Holsen, T. M., Felton, D., Miller, E. K., Perry, K. D., Schmeltz, D., Steffen, A., Tordon, R., Weiss-Penzias, P., and Zsolway, R.: Nested-grid simulation of mercury over North America, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 6095-6111,, 2012.
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