Sea-Air Partitioning of Mercury in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean

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Science  07 Mar 1986:
Vol. 231, Issue 4742, pp. 1131-1133
DOI: 10.1126/science.231.4742.1131


The partitioning of gaseous mercury between the atmosphere and surface waters was determined in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. The highest concentrations of dissolved gaseous mercury occurred in cooler, nutrient-rich waters that characterize equatorial upwelling and increased biological productivity at the sea surface. The surface waters were supersaturated with respect to elemental mercury; a significant flux of elemental mercury to the atmosphere is predicted for the equatorial Pacific. When normalized to primary production on a global basis, the ocean effluxes of mercury may rival anthropogenic emissions of mercury to the atmosphere.