The sea-air exchange of mercury (Hg) in the marine boundary layer of the Augusta basin (southern Italy): concentrations and evasion flux.
Mercury evasion from seawaters is considered to be one of the main natural sources of mercury released to the atmosphere. The temporal evolution of this mechanism is related to biotic and abiotic processes that produce mercury in its elemental form and as DGM. The efficiency of these processes depends upon the intensity of the solar radiation, the ambient temperature of the air parcel above the seawater, and the water temperature. In the Mediterranean region, the magnitude of these mechanisms are particularly significant, due to favorable climate conditions and to the presence of large cinnabar deposits that cross the whole region; all these synergic factors yield significant evasional fluxes of mercury from the surface water during most of the annual period. In this work, mercury fluxes were measured by using a floating flux chamber connected to an atomic absorption analyzer. Photosynthetic active radiation (PAR) and UV components of the solar radiation were measured using the same system adopted in the EC 'ELDONet project'. The measurements of the mercury evasional fluxes were carried out at three sites of the northern Tyrrhenian Sea during 1998. Two sites were located at unpolluted and polluted coastal areas, and the third was an offshore site. The evasional flux showed a typical daily trend, highest at midday when the ambient temperature and solar radiation were at the maximum, and lowest, near to zero, during the night. Besides the day-night behavior, a seasonal trend was also observed, with minimum values during the winter period (0.7-2.0 ng/m2 h) and maximum values during the summer (10-13 ng/m2 h).