Articles | Volume 12, issue 21
Research article
09 Nov 2015
Research article |  | 09 Nov 2015

Halocarbon emissions and sources in the equatorial Atlantic Cold Tongue

H. Hepach, B. Quack, S. Raimund, T. Fischer, E. L. Atlas, and A. Bracher

Abstract. Halocarbons from oceanic sources contribute to halogens in the troposphere, and can be transported into the stratosphere where they take part in ozone depletion. This paper presents distribution and sources in the equatorial Atlantic from June and July 2011 of the four compounds bromoform (CHBr3), dibromomethane (CH2Br2), methyl iodide (CH3I) and diiodomethane (CH2I2). Enhanced biological production during the Atlantic Cold Tongue (ACT) season, indicated by phytoplankton pigment concentrations, led to elevated concentrations of CHBr3 of up to 44.7 and up to 9.2 pmol L−1 for CH2Br2 in surface water, which is comparable to other tropical upwelling systems. While both compounds correlated very well with each other in the surface water, CH2Br2 was often more elevated in greater depth than CHBr3, which showed maxima in the vicinity of the deep chlorophyll maximum. The deeper maximum of CH2Br2 indicates an additional source in comparison to CHBr3 or a slower degradation of CH2Br2. Concentrations of CH3I of up to 12.8 pmol L−1 in the surface water were measured. In contrary to expectations of a predominantly photochemical source in the tropical ocean, its distribution was mostly in agreement with biological parameters, indicating a biological source. CH2I2 was very low in the near surface water with maximum concentrations of only 3.7 pmol L−1. CH2I2 showed distinct maxima in deeper waters similar to CH2Br2. For the first time, diapycnal fluxes of the four halocarbons from the upper thermocline into and out of the mixed layer were determined. These fluxes were low in comparison to the halocarbon sea-to-air fluxes. This indicates that despite the observed maximum concentrations at depth, production in the surface mixed layer is the main oceanic source for all four compounds and one of the main driving factors of their emissions into the atmosphere in the ACT-region. The calculated production rates of the compounds in the mixed layer are 34 ± 65 pmol m−3 h−1 for CHBr3, 10 ± 12 pmol m−3 h−1 for CH2Br2, 21 ± 24 pmol m−3 h−1 for CH3I and 384 ± 318 pmol m−3 h−1 for CH2I2 determined from 13 depth profiles.

Short summary
This manuscript covers the first measurements of CHBr3, CH2Br2 and CH3I from the equatorial Atlantic during the Cold Tongue season, identifying this region and season as a source for these compounds. For the first time, we calculated diapycnal fluxes, and showed that the fluxes from below the mixed layer to the surface are not sufficient to balance the mixed layer budget. Hence, we conclude that mixed layer production has to take place despite a pronounced sub-mixed-layer-maximum.
Final-revised paper