Quick cycling of quicksilver

Nature Geoscience (February 2012 issue) contains a “News and Views” column that I wrote about some exciting new airborne measurements of mercury. An article in the same issue, by Seth Lyman and Dan Jaffe, reports the first measurements of elemental and oxidized mercury at high altitudes. Previous modeling work by myself and others suggested that oxidation should be very fast near the tropopause and above. These observations confirm that model result and suggest that particle settling controls the fate of mercury in the upper atmosphere.

Atmospheric mercury cycle. Oxidation occurs throughout the atmosphere and new measurements confirm model predictions that it is fastest at high altitudes near the tropopause and above.