1GEOMAR Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung Kiel, Germany
2Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS), University of Miami, USA
3Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar und Meeresforschung (AWI), Bremerhaven, Germany
4MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University Bremen, Bremen, Germany
*now at: Department of Oceanography, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada
Abstract. Methyl iodide (CH3I}, bromoform (CHBr3) and dibromomethane (CH2Br2), which are produced naturally in the oceans, take part in ozone chemistry both in the troposphere and the stratosphere. The significance of oceanic upwelling regions for emissions of these trace gases in the global context is still uncertain although they have been identified as important source regions. To better quantify the role of upwelling areas in current and future climate, this paper analyzes major factors that influenced halocarbon emissions from the tropical North East Atlantic including the Mauritanian upwelling during the DRIVE expedition. Diel and regional variability of oceanic and atmospheric CH3I, CHBr3 and CH2Br2 was determined along with biological and meteorological parameters at six 24 h-stations. Low oceanic concentrations of CH3I from 0.1–5.4 pmol L-1 were equally distributed throughout the investigation area. CHBr3 of 1.0–42.4 pmol L-1 and CH2Br2 of 1.0–9.4 pmol L-1 were measured with maximum concentrations close to the Mauritanian coast. Atmospheric mixing rations of CH3I of up to 3.3, CHBr3 to 8.9 and CH2Br2 to 3.1 ppt above the upwelling and 1.8, 12.8, respectively 2.2 ppt at a Cape Verdean coast were detected during the campaign. While diel variability in CH3I emissions could be mainly ascribed to oceanic non-biological production, no main driver was identified for its emissions in the entire study region. In contrast, oceanic bromocarbons resulted from biogenic sources which were identified as regional drivers of their sea-to-air fluxes. The diel impact of wind speed on bromocarbon emissions increased with decreasing distance to the coast. The height of the marine atmospheric boundary layer (MABL) was determined as an additional factor influencing halocarbon emissions. Oceanic and atmospheric halocarbons correlated well in the study region and in combination with high oceanic CH3I, CHBr3 and CH2Br2 concentrations, local hot spots of atmospheric halocarbons could solely be explained by marine sources. This conclusion is in contrast with previous studies that hypothesized the occurrence of elevated atmospheric halocarbons over the eastern tropical Atlantic mainly originating from the West-African continent.