Main content area

Uncertainty Assessment of Gaseous Oxidized Mercury Measurements Collected by Atmospheric Mercury Network

Cheng, Irene, Zhang, Leiming
Environmental Science & Technology 2017 v.51 no.2 pp. 855-862
air, biogeochemical cycles, chemical composition, data collection, mercury, ozone, summer, uncertainty, wet deposition
Gaseous oxidized mercury (GOM) measurement uncertainties undoubtedly impact the understanding of mercury biogeochemical cycling; however, there is a lack of consensus on the uncertainty magnitude. The numerical method presented in this study provides an alternative means of estimating the uncertainties of previous GOM measurements. Weekly GOM in ambient air was predicted from measured weekly mercury wet deposition using a scavenging ratio approach, and compared against field measurements of 2–4 hly GOM to estimate the measurement biases of the Tekran speciation instruments at 13 Atmospheric Mercury Network (AMNet) sites. Multiyear average GOM measurements were estimated to be biased low by more than a factor of 2 at six sites, between a factor of 1.5 and 1.8 at six other sites, and below a factor of 1.3 at one site. The differences between predicted and observed were significantly larger during summer than other seasons potentially because of higher ozone concentrations that may interfere with GOM sampling. The analysis data collected over six years at multiple sites suggests a systematic bias in GOM measurements, supporting the need for further investigation of measurement technologies and identifying the chemical composition of GOM.