Wet deposition of mercury in the U.S. and Canada, 1996-2005: Results and analysis of the NADP mercury deposition network (MDN)

Eric M. Prestbo, David A Gay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One of the most critical measurements needed to understand the biogeochemical cycle of mercury, and to verify atmospheric models, is the rate of mercury wet-deposition. The Mercury Deposition Network (MDN) operates sites across North America to monitor total mercury in wet-deposition. MDN's primary goal is to provide both spatial and temporal continental-scale observations of mercury wet-deposition fluxes to support researchers, modelers, policy-makers and the public interest. MDN represents the only continental-scale mercury deposition database with a >10-year record of continuous values. This study provides analysis and interpretation of MDN observations at 10 years (1996-2005) with an emphasis on investigating whether rigorous, statistically-significant temporal trends and spatial patterns were present and where they occurred. Wet deposition of mercury ranges from more than 25 μg m-2 yr in south Florida to less than 3 μg m-2 yr in northern California. Volume-weighted total mercury concentrations are statistically different between defined regions overall (Southeast ≈ Midwest > Ohio River > Northeast), with the highest in Florida, Minnesota, and several Southwest locations (10-16 ng L-1). Total mercury wet-deposition is significantly different between defined regions (Southeast > Ohio River > Midwest > Northeast). Mercury deposition is strongly seasonal in eastern North America. The average mercury concentration is about two times higher in summer than in winter, and the average deposition is approximately more than three times greater in summer than in winter. Forty-eight sites with validated datasets of five years or more were tested for trends using the non-parametric seasonal Kendall trend test. Significant decreasing mercury wet-deposition concentration trends were found at about half of the sites, particularly across Pennsylvania and extending up through the Northeast.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4223-4233
Number of pages11
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number27
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • MDN
  • Mercury
  • Temporal trends
  • Wet deposition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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