Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP7

GMOS Report Summary

Project ID: 265113
Funded under: FP7-ENVIRONMENT
Country: Italy

Final Report Summary - GMOS (Global Mercury Observation System)

Executive Summary:
The Global Mercury Observation System (GMOS) project has pioneered the development of a coordinated, global mercury observation system. Mercury is a naturally occurring element found in atmospheric, water and soil ecosystems. It originates in the Earth’s crust and cannot be created or destroyed. However, natural and human activities can redistribute mercury with potentially hazardous health effects. To properly monitor risks to the environment and human health, scientists and policy makers must coordinate both their research and legislative efforts. National and regional monitoring networks on their own are not enough; coordinated global mercury monitoring is needed in order to make global assessments. GMOS has already helped policy makers and researchers from around the world to monitor the presence of mercury in ecosystems and food chains will aid the future assessment of the effectiveness of emission reduction measures.
Launched in November 2010, the GMOS has established a global monitoring system for measuring mercury concentrations in ambient air and deposition at more than 40 background monitoring sites worldwide at different latitudes and altitude. The project has filled an important monitoring gap and gives scientists a truly global picture of current mercury pollution levels. From these monitoring sites data continues to be gathered with the intention to analyse future emission reduction measures and their effectiveness. Prior to the GMOS project, there were almost no monitoring sites in the tropics or in the southern hemisphere.
Several countries had no provisions for monitoring mercury prior to GMOS. The GMOS community has carried out, and continues to carry out an impressive programme of capacity building in cooperation with UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) and GEF (Global Environment Facility) in order to assist nations in developing their own monitoring systems.

The project will also help implement the Minamata Convention, approved by over 100 nations in November 2013 in Kumamoto, Japan, which among other things requires nations to assess the effectiveness of the measures implemented to reduce the emissions. The EU and the European scientific community played a key role in preparing the Minamata Convention, and GMOS is the only global monitoring system capable of supporting its implementation.
The project has also been building up existing monitoring sites to better integrate the global monitoring community, while a task force has been created to validate and unify policy assessment tools. GMOS has been also a key Task of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), which makes interoperable observing systems from around the world and encourages the use of environmental data for social benefit.
The GMOS database, which conserves historical data, is now continuously updated with data from the expanded monitoring network. Updated emissions data have been developed to track changes related to regulations, energy production and manufacturing output. As new data become available, model predictions are checked against observations in order to fine-tune model capabilities.
GMOS will continue, enabling the European scientific community to continue and reinforce its leadership by developing advanced monitoring technologies such as sensors based on nanostructured materials, which will allow all nations to develop and manage national monitoring systems at an affordable cost. Unfortunately cost remains a limiting factor for most countries, especially in the developing world.

Project Context and Objectives:
The Global Mercury Observation System (GMOS) aimed to establish a worldwide observation system for the measurement of atmospheric mercury in ambient air and precipitation samples. GMOS included ground-based monitoring stations, shipboard measurements over the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and European Seas, as well as aircraft-based measurements in the troposphere and lower stratosphere.

Previous to GMOS there was neither a coordinated global observational network for mercury (Hg) nor a multi-source database that could be used by the scientific community or policy makers to determine the current state of Hg distribution and dispersion, to establish recommendations to protect human health and ecosystems. In particular due to a lack of monitoring sites in the tropics and the southern hemisphere there was no infrastructure available to adequately monitor the changes in mercury distributions and fluxes as the relative importance of source regions changed, and no possibility of assessing the impact of emission reductions on a global scale. Existing national/regional monitoring networks were inadequate for a global scale assessment.

Recognizing that TGM and Hg in wet deposition are spatially heterogeneous, several research initiatives had sought to set up monitoring networks in order to compare trends between sites in the same region, between regions, and to determine the influence of local and regional emission sources. There is also interest in understanding the processes that contribute to Hg variability on a diurnal, weekly, seasonal, and annual basis. In 1995, scientists began to argue for and to define the basic requirements of an Atmospheric Mercury Network (AMNet). This has partly been accomplished on a regional scale within the Canadian Atmospheric Mercury Network (CAMNet), which may be considered as seminal in this respect. Also as part of the National Deposition Programme (NADP) the Mecrury Deposition Network has measured Hg in precipitation at numerous sites in the US for more than ten years. Since 2009 AMNet has been part of the NADP.
Mercury in polar regions is of particular concern because of the particular chemistry of Hg in the polar boundary layer and because of the fragility of the ecosystem. Part of the CAMNet contributes also to the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) under the Ministry Council of Circum Polar Countries and where there is also contribution from the Scandinavian countries, e.g. on Greenland. Nevertheless, although the number of atmospheric Hg monitoring stations has increased, the database is sparse, especially in remote locations. Within Europe atmospheric mercury measurements have been performed since the early 80's at selected northern European sites as part of the European Monitoring Evaluation Program (EMEP) of the UNECE-LRTAP convention. This network detected the decrease in atmospheric Hg concentrations and Hg in precipitation which occurred when Eastern European countries went into economic decline in the late 1980's leading to the closure of a significant number of industrial installations. Later, as part of three European Commission funded projects, (MAMCS, MOE and MERCYMS) a first attempt was made to establish an European wide measurement network. One of the major outcomes of these EU projects was that for the first time, simultaneous measurements of speciated mercury were performed at 10 measurement sites located across Europe during several two-week intensive campaigns at both ground-based and off-shore site. The results of these projects allowed, among other things, the preparation of the European Position Paper on Mercury which provided the scientific background of the 4th Daughter Air Quality Directive. One of the major findings of these projects was a better understanding of the role of Marine Boundary Layer (MBL) in the oxidation of elemental Hg. Oxidized Hg compounds are more readily deposited to surface waters and terrestrial ecosystems than elemental Hg leading to a variation of the atmospheric lifetime of elemental mercury with latitude. It is clear that the networks described above however are all in the Northern Hemisphere and predominantly concerned with mid and polar latitudes.

Relatively few observations of atmospheric Hg have been carried out in the Southern Hemisphere. The few observations to date, with the exception of those at the Global Atmospheric Watch (GAW) monitoring station at Cape Point in South Africa and some oceanographic campaigns, have mostly been carried out near to, or downwind of, major sources, and have been for the most part relatively short term campaign based observations.

Recently, as part of the work plan (2009-2011) of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), the Task HE-02 "Tracking Pollutants" aiming to develop a global observation system for mercury was established. This task supports the achievement of the goals of Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) and other on-going international programs (e.g. the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Global Mercury Partnership) and conventions (i.e., the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Long-Range Transboundary of Air Pollution, specifically the Task Force on Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollution, TF HTAP). Programs such as the World Meteorological Organization's Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) have made substantial efforts to establish data centres and quality control programs to enhance integration of air quality measurements from different national and regional networks, and to establish observational sites in under-sampled, remote regions around the world. Similarly, the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry project (of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme) has strongly endorsed the need for international exchange of calibration standards, and has helped coordinate multinational field campaigns to address a variety of important issues related to global air quality. Following the lead of these programs, the incorporation of a well-defined Hg monitoring component into the existing network of sites would be the most expeditious and efficient approach to realise a global Hg monitoring network. Close coordination of the global modelling community with the global measurement community has led to improvements in global models, and also to a better understanding of Hg science, while at the same time reducing some of the uncertainties in global assessments for Hg entering aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and helping to constrain the exchange of Hg between environmental compartments in the global biogeochemical cycle of Hg.

The overall goal of GMOS was to develop a coordinated global observation system for mercury, including ground-based stations at high altitude and sea level locations, ad-hoc oceanographic cruises over the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and using research aircraft to measure Hg concentrations in the boundary layer and free troposphere. This has provided high quality data for the validation and application of regional and global scale atmospheric models, to give a firm basis for future policy development and implementation.

The specific objectives of GMOS were:

To establish a Global Observation System for Mercury able to provide ambient concentrations and deposition fluxes of mercury species around the world, by combining observations from permanent ground-based stations, and from oceanographic and airborne measurement campaigns.
To validate regional and global scale atmospheric mercury modelling systems able to predict the temporal variations and spatial distributions of ambient concentrations of atmospheric mercury, and Hg fluxes to and from terrestrial and aquatic receptors.
To evaluate and identify source-receptor relationships at country scale and their temporal trends for current and projected scenarios of mercury emissions from anthropogenic and natural sources.
To develop interoperable tools to allow the sharing of observational and models output data produced by GMOS, for the purposes of research and policy development and implementation, This will also support the advances in scientific understanding in the nine Societal Benefit Areas (SBA) established in GEOSS.

In defining the project objectives and also the project partnership there were a number of specific intentions. It was clearly important to have a broad range of expertise involved in the project, the logistics of running monitoring sites in polar regions, or remote regions such as Amsterdam Island or challenging areas such as the Himalayas requires skilled scientists. The techniques required for airborne and oceanographic campaigns are very diverse, but all available within Europe. However beyond the aim of producing good and reliable scientific results was the realisation that the project was above all global, and should contribute and conform to global initiatives and programs. The most important from a policy point of view was that in February of 2009 the Governing Council of UNEP had adopted Decision 25/5 on the development of a global legally binding instrument on mercury. The negotiations which followed continued throughout the duration of the project and the project itself was able to provide expert advice and act as a demonstration that the concept of a worldwide monitoring network for Hg was indeed feasible.
The list below gives an indication of how GMOS in collaboration with the UNEP Global Mercury Partnership, and in particular the Mercury Air Transport and Fate partnership area, supports the implementation of a number of the articles of the Minamata convention.
Main foreseen activities of GMOS and UNEP F&T’s contribution:
Art.8 Emissions and Annex D. List of point sources of emissions of mercury and mercury compounds to the atmosphere: To take measures to control emissions, Inventories of of emissions, Reporting on Implementation of art.8;
Art.9 Releases: To take measures to control releases, Inventories of releases, Reporting on Implementation of art.9;
Art.12 Contaminated sites: To develop strategies for Identifying and assessing contaminated sites;
Art.14 Capacity-building, technical assistance and technology transfer: To provide timely and appropriate capacity building, technical assistance and technology transfer to developing country Parties;
Art.17 Information exchange: To facilitate the exchange of scientific and technical Information, with particular regard to information on the reduction or elimination of the emissions and releases of mercury;
Art.18 Public Information, awareness and education: To promote and facilitate the dissemination of the results of Research, Development and Monitoring activities;
Art.19 Research, development and Monitoring: To cooperate to develop and improve: Inventories, modelling and monitoring, Information on the environmental cycle, transport, transformation and fate of Hg, etc.;
Art.21 Reporting: To report on the measures to be taken to Implement the provisions of the Minamata Convention;
Art. 22 Effectiveness evaluation: To evaluate the effectiveness of the Minamata Convention through, inter alia, comparable monitoring data on the presence of mercury in the environment.

In addition to the Minamata Convention, the project was intended to support and contribute to the initiatives of the GEO and in particular GEOSS. GEOSS places an emphasis not just on Earth System observation but also on the quality, traceability and intercomparability of earth observation data. One of the pillars of the GMOS project was to ensure that the data produced was reliable and available, for this reason a cyber(e)-infrastructure was foreseen, designed and implemented to ensure that data products conformed to international standards of interoperability. The GMOS Data Quality Management System (G-DQM) was established not only to quality control but also quality assurance. The system monitors the performance of the analytical instruments with the GMOS network, if necessary alerting data providers to performance problems, upcoming maintenance tasks and thus reduces as far as possible data redundancy. However the G-DQM is only part of the GMOS Spatial Interface (SDI). The SDI now provides a data portal where near-real time measurement data, historical monitoring data, results from oceanographic and airborne campaigns can be viewed and requested.

Project Results:
1. Introduction

This Description of main S&T results / foregrounds, is a summary of the GMOS final brochure, which describes and illustrates the numerous advances, applications, and contributions to policy which the GMOS project has made. The brochure is available as low and high resolution pdf files at the following urls;

http://www.gmos.eu/index.php/publicdocuments/doc_download/174-final-brochure-high-res
http://www.gmos.eu/index.php/publicdocuments/doc_download/217-final-brochure-low-res

Towards the end of the GMOS project two videos were produced to illustrate the results obtained during the project, the role the project has had in the negotiation process for the Minamata Convention, and how GMOS has contributed to Global Earth Observation initiatives such as GEO (Group on Earth Observations), GEOSS (Global Earth Observation System of Systems) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Mercury Air Transport and Fate Research Partnership. The videos, one longer version, and a shorter version prepared for the GEO-XII Plenary & Mexico City Ministerial Summit, (11-12 November & 13 November 2015, Mexico City, Mexico) which won second prize in the video competition can be found here;

https://vimeo.com/143397175 three minute version
https://vimeo.com/143375941 eight minute version

Mercury (Hg) is emitted to the atmosphere mainly as gaseous elemental mercury, Hg0(g) or GEM, and due to its long atmospheric lifetime (0.5 - 1 year) it is defined as a “global pollutant” and has an impact on ecosystems very distant from the places from where it is emitted. Atmospheric Hg0(g) can be oxidized to form Hg(II) compounds (e.g. HgCl2), which is readily removed from the atmosphere by both wet (precipitation) and dry deposition (settling). A part of the Hg(II) that is deposited may be methylated within ecosystems and it is this form of Hg which can enter the food web and is particularly toxic to living organisms. Methyl mercury biomagnifies in the food web and can reach levels which endanger human well-being in some predatory fish species.

2. Addressing the Mercury Problem

The understanding of processes which govern Hg emission from natural and anthropogenic sources, its transport and transformation in the atmosphere, and its eventual deposition and methylation is necessary to quantify its potential impact on human health. Although Hg monitoring networks exist (Europe, Canada, USA and Asia), many regions still have scarce or no data on atmospheric Hg, particularly in the tropics and the southern hemisphere.

A coordinated global observational network for atmospheric Hg has been established during the GMOS project, to demonstrate that it is possible to provide consistent and high-quality Hg measurements worldwide and validate models for policy scenarios analysis.
The Minamata Convention has been signed by over 100 nations in Kumamoto, Japan in October 2013 after a preparatory process carried out by the UNEP Governing Council – INC (Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee) activities started in 2009.


3. GMOS and the Minamata Convention

The recent Minamata Convention is aimed at reducing the anthropogenic impact on the global Hg biogeochemical cycle (http://www.mercuryconvention.org/). It is foreseen that the Minamata Convention will enter into force from January 2018 – GMOS may play a very important role by providing high quality data on mercury in ambient air, marine ecosystems including biota and human health exposure.

As part of future actions within the Minamata Convention implementation through a close cooperation with UNEP, GEF and existing regional programmes the possibility of transition of GMOS infrastructure to an operational infrastructure is under evaluation.
The specific objectives of GMOS were:
To establish a Global Observation System for Mercury combining observations from permanent ground-based monitoring stations, and from oceanographic and airborne measurement campaigns.
To validate regional and global scale atmospheric mercury modelling systems using measured ambient concentrations of atmospheric mercury, and Hg fluxes to terrestrial and aquatic receptors.
To identify source-receptor relationships at country / regional scales and how they vary in time in order to evaluate the impact for selected projected scenarios of mercury emissions from anthropogenic and natural sources.
To develop interoperable tools to allow the sharing of observational data and models output produced in GMOS, for the purposes of research and policy development and implementation.

4. Bridging Science and Policy – The Policy Process for Mercury

Since 2001 the EU mercury scientific community has played a key role in supporting the UNEP Governing Council in the preparation of the Minamata Convention. A significant contribution was provided through the UNEP Partnership Area on Mercury Aim Transport and Fate Research (UNEP F&T) since 2006, the Task Force on Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollutants (under the UNECE-LRTAP) and the GEO Task on Tracking Pollutants since 2008.
Essential to support the Policy Process:
2001: UNEP GC at its 21st session: need for a global assessment of mercury recognized;
2003: Study “GMA Report” prepared by UNEP presented to the GC at its 22nd session. GC agreed for further international action on mercury;
2005: UNEP GC at its 23rd session called for Mercury Partnership between governments and stakeholders: Five Partnership Areas were identified;
2005: UNEP F&T published “Dynamics of mercury pollution on regional and global scales” Springer, USA (Pirrone and Mahaffey, Eds.)
2007: UNEP GC at its 24th session: “two-track” approach based on voluntary actions and on the path to LBI. An overarching framework for strengthening UNEP Global Mercury Programme partnership was developed;
2008-2009: UNEP F&T published “Mercury Fate and Transport in the Global Atmosphere: Emissions, Measurements and Models” Springer, USA (Pirrone and Mason, Eds.)
2008: AMAP and UNEP published “The Global Atmospheric Mercury Assessment: Sources, Emissions and Transport”;
2009: UNEP GC at its 25th session: agreed on an Intergovernmental Negotiating Commitee (INC) to prepare a legally binding instrument on mercury;
2010-2013: INC’s work started in 2010;
October 2013: Minamata Convention was signed in Kumamoto, Japan.

5. How did GMOS set about achieving its goals?

The GMOS network was established in part by the integration of existing atmospheric Hg monitoring stations which are part of current regional networks. In addition to this a number of new GMOS sites have been established, with a particular focus on the Southern Hemisphere. These sites include a number of remote sites, both at sea level and at high altitude which through the GMOS project are providing monitoring data from regions where previously there was absolutely no data at all. To date, there are more than 40 monitoring sites participating.
The GMOS network uses high-quality sampling and measurement techniques. At all sites GEM is measured continuously and precipitation samples are collected with a frequency which depends on the site’s climate zone. The measurement and sampling techniques used in the GMOS project were chosen to be compatible and comparable with those used in existing regional monitoring programmes.
GMOS has two classes of monitoring station:
Master Stations are those sites where Gaseous Elemental Mercury (GEM), Gaseous Oxidized Mercury (GOM), and fine particulate-bound Hg (PBM2.5) as well as Hg in precipitation are continuously measured;
Secondary Stations are those sites where only Total Gaseous Mercury (TGM) or GEM, and Hg in precipitation are continuously measured.

Where possible the monitoring data from the stations is uploaded in near real-time to the GMOS central database. In places where internet access is not well functioning monitoring data is updated by operators on a regular basis.

The raw data coverage of both TGM/GEM and Hg speciation data from the start of the project until June 2015. The consistency of dataset that actually is in GMOS database on a monthly basis. From the start of the GMOS network some few monitoring sites have changed their location or sampled for short time periods, however, there have been a representative number of continuous 28 core sites maintained during the time that represents the duration of the GMOS project and to date are on-going.


TGM/GEM yearly distribution for the 2013 and 2014 years that include enough data from the core monitoring stations to support discussion on Hg concentrations, trends and its gradient worldwide. The sites have been organized in the graphic according to their location in the Northern Hemisphere, those in the Equatorial Zone and in the Southern Hemisphere.
The northern sites had significantly higher median concentrations than did the southern sites. Therefore, a clear gradient of Hg mean concentration for the years 2013 and 2014 has been highlighted from the north to the south according to the literature.

6. GMOS at High Altitude Locations

The EVK GMOS site, located at 5050m asl (above sea level) represents the highest altitude monitoring station for atmospheric Hg in the world. The mean TGM/GEM concentration observed at the EVK GMOS is less than the reported background TGM/GEM concentration for the Northern Hemisphere (1.5-1.7 ngm-3) whereas it is within the range of values expected for background levels of TGM/GEM in the Southern Hemisphere (1.1-1.3 ngm-3). The observed range of values is somewhat surprising for a remote high altitude location. The elevated background level of TGM/GEM observed under certain meteorological conditions,and primarily during the non-monsoon period of the year (October to May) could likely be due to strong regional sources in Asia as well as influenced by long-range transport of polluted air masses which extend from the Indian Ocean into the Himalayan Mountain Range, and occasionally by the weak local emission sources.
Several GMOS sites are at hight altitude locations such as those in Nepal, China, Alps, India, Antarctica, etc., Theses sites provide valuable information for understanding of Hg dynamics in the mid-troposphere.


7. GMOS in Polar Regions

A surprising discovery that provided a great impetus for atmospheric Hg chemistry research in the scientific community was the observation of an unusual phenomenon called Atmospheric Mercury Depletion Events (AMDEs) firstly observed in the atmospheric boundary layer of the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, and secondly in Antarctica during springtime. These phenomena due to a series of photochemically initiated reactions believed to be driven by the release of active halogen compounds, can reduce the atmospheric concentration of TGM/GEM to undetectable levels. GMOS at established monitoring sites in the Arctic and Antarctic.
These types of measurements can yield critical information for a better understanding of the processes involved in the Hg cycle in the polar atmosphere and the mechanisms characterizing the deposition of this pollutant to this fragile environment. Significant variability in measured TGM/GEM concentrations were observed at the Italian-French Antarctic monitoring site, Dome C. This variability resulting from unique atmospheric chemistry occurring in polar areas particularly during Antarctic springtime.

During the Arctic springtime, due to a series of photochemically initiated reactions, several AMDEs were observed each year, and during these events TGM levels fell to around 0.2 - 0.3 ngm-3.


8. Harmonization of Monitoring Procedures

During the planning and implementation stage of GMOS, particular attention was paid to set the protocols governing measurement and sampling techniques and harmonization. This is fundamental to being able to provide high quality data and ensure that data management complies with international standards of data interoperability and to guarantee full comparability of site specific observational datasets. The QA/QC protocols do not apply only to the measurement data but also to the performance parameters of the instrumentation.
A major effort was made in particular to implement a centralized system (termed GMOS-Data Quality Management, G-DQM) able to acquire atmospheric Hg data in near real-time and, furthermore, to assure and control quality of collected Hg datasets following the GMOS Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and measurements parameters of the instrumentation.
Harmonized SOPs were developed and adopted by the GMOS partners, and common Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) protocols designed and implemented at all sites. The SOPs and QA/QC protocols have been based on current SOPs adopted in other regions/networks, on most recent literature as well as on the experience gathered from continuous measurement programs in Europe, US, and elsewhere. The Figure shows G-DQM work-flow with the main step processes on which it is based. The major novelty introduced by the G-DQM system consists in the service approach that facilitate real-time adaptive monitoring and ultimately support real-time decisions based on the SOPs. The implementation of the G-DQM system can prevent the production of poor-quality data as well as can provide a thorough consistency of globally-based data that can be thus effectively used for international negotiations and global models of atmospheric mercury.


9. The World’s Oceans play a crucial role in the global biogeochemical cycle of Mercury
Most Hg emitted to the atmosphere is deposited to the marine environment. Within the oceans Hg can be methylated and then bioaccumulate, and indeed biomagnify within the food web. As the most prevalent form of human exposure to Hg is via the consumption of seafood it is vital to understand the processes that govern the exchange of Hg between the atmosphere and the ocean and the transformations which Hg undergoes in the water column.

A number of oceanographic measurement campaigns were undertaken during GMOS over the Oceans (i.e., Atlantic) and regional Seas (i.e., Mediterranean Sea Basin) these campaigns were carried out within ad-hoc programs as well as part of on-going national and international initiatives (i.e., GEOTRACES, MED-OCEANOR).
Spatial and vertical distribution of dissolved gaseous mercury (DGM) were measured in the water column in the Tyrrhenian Sea and in the western Mediterranean Sea during the “Fenice” 2011 and 2012 cruises, respectively, in the framework of the MEDOCEANOR program as a support to GMOS.

The route and measurement stations during the GA10 GEOTRACES cruise from 24th December 2011 until 27th January 2012. Ship sailed from Cape Town, South Africa and landed in Montevideo, Uruguay. Station 20 was devoted to Hg speciation sampling and was the only station where MeHg was determined.
Deep waters in the Argentine Basin were characterized by the highest DGM values measured during the cruise. Depth profile for MeHg concentrations during South Atlantic cruise along the 40°S parallel. Grey dots indicate sampling depths. The values were generally very low and no strong variation was observed; however, the western basing has slightly higher concentrations than the eastern.

Continuous measurements of dissolved gaseous mercury (DGM) were performed during the two Antarctic campaigns and also depth profiles were analysed. Deep sea water profiles were measured at 19 stations during ANTXXIX/6, at 25 stations during ANTXXIX/7. At ice stations, samples of sea ice, snow, under ice water, brine and frost flowers were sampled and analysed. Sea ice and snow samples were sampled at 9 ice stations during ANTXXIX/6, at 3 stations during ANTXXIX/7.
DGM (ng m-3) surface water, DGM profiles and Hg evasion (ngm-2h-1) during the Antarctic winter cruise campaign (ANTXXIX/6). Routes of two cruise campaigns (a winter campaign, ANTXXIX/6, from 8th June to 12th August 2013, and a spring campaign, ANTXXIX/7, from 14th of August to 16th of October 2013) performed on board the German research vessel Polarstern in the Weddell Sea. The winter campaign started in Cape Town, South Africa and ended in Punta Arenas, Chile. The spring campaign, started in Punta Arenas, Chile and ended in Cape Town, South Africa.


10. Measuring Vertical Profiles in the Troposphere

Perhaps the first question to be answered here should really be, “Why?”

Most Hg transport in the atmosphere occurs above the planetary boundary layer (PBL), the part of the atmosphere directly influenced by the Earth’s surface. The distribution of atmospheric compounds which can oxidise elemental Hg to form more water soluble Hg(II) compounds also differs significantly with altitude. Data concerning the vertical distribution of Hg is particularly useful for validating chemical transport models because it aids understanding of Hg transport and transformation in the atmosphere.

In conjunction and as part of with other national and international programmes (i.e., CARIBIC), a number of intercontinental flights have been performed in the Upper Troposphere/Lower Stratosphere. Thanks to GMOS we have better data on the vertical profiles of mercury compounds carried out during Regional scale flights (ETMEP) up to the mid-troposphere over industrial areas of EU and over natural sources like volcanoes.

GOM was sampled onto a denuder during the whole profile. All measurements were performed below the boundary layer top. All concentrations are given at standard conditions (p=1013.25 hPa, T=273.15 K).

11. Models to Support the Policy Process

Regional and global models can be used to simulate atmospheric mercury concentrations and deposition fluxes and thus to estimate mercury impact on locations where measurements are unavailable. They are used to investigate atmospheric transport patterns and transformation processes. Models give researchers the possibility to investigate the relative importance of the emission, exchange, transformation and deposition processes which influence the atmospheric mercury cycle. They can be used to estimate the impacts of future emission scenarios.


They can also be used to investigate the possible consequences of future emission scenarios, for
example “Business as Usual”, “Maximum Feasible Reduction” to assess the effectiveness of measures aiming to reduce the emissions (Art. 22 of the Minamata Convention) and their socio-economic costs.

However, measurements are necessary to ensure that models are providing realistic estimates of mercury concentrations and fluxes. This is where the GMOS project has had a major impact, particularly as a result of measurements in the Tropics and Southern Hemisphere where data was desperately scarce.
The most significant changes in Hg deposition (both increase and decrease) during the next 20 years for all considered emission-reduction scenarios are expected in the Northern Hemisphere and, in particular, in the largest industrial regions, where the majority of regulated emission sources are located.

The ‘Current Policy’ scenario (CP2035) yields a considerable decrease (20-30%) of Hg deposition in Europe and North America and a strong increase (up to 50%) in South and Eastern Asia.
The ‘New Policy’ scenario (NP2035) shows a moderate decrease in Hg deposition (20- 30%) everywhere except for South Asia (India), where some deposition increase (10-15%) would be expected. Model predictions based on the ‘Maximum Feasible Reduction’ scenario (MFR2035) demonstrate consistent global Hg deposition reduction. In the Northern Hemisphere by 35-50% and by 30-35% in the Southern Hemisphere.


12. GMOS, GEO, GEOSS and Big Data

GMOS is a key project of GEO and is the foundational activity of the GEO Task on Tracking Pollutants. Following the GEO data sharing principles a cyber(e)-infrastructure has been developed within GMOS to handle, coordinate and provide access to the data from the project and make them available to policy makers and stakeholders as well as to the general public. This includes the current monitoring data, the historical data from past programmes and measurement campaigns and emissions data as well as model output from the project’s regional and global modelling groups. The cyber(e)-infrastructure is however much more than a simple data repository, it provides key information including the:

Near real-time data acquisition and visualisation
Automated data QA/QC
Real-time instrument diagnostics including performance and maintenance alerts
Historical measurements database
Modelling data
Geospatial data tools and web-based tools for analysis, visualisation and dissemination
Conformity with international data interoperability standards

13. What comes next?
As part of UNEP F&T GMOS may support the implementation of several articles of the Minamata Convention that may range from the Effectiveness Evaluation (Art.22) to capacity building, information and public awareness (Art.14, 17, 18, 21). To ensure a continuous engagement of the scientific community in the policy making process and make sure that decisions will be taken on the state-of-the-art knowledge of different aspects related to emissions, monitoring and exposure evaluation.

Main foreseen activities:
To take measures to control emissions, Inventories of of emissions, Reporting on Implementation of art.8
To take measures to control releases, Inventories of releases, Reporting on Implementation of art.9
To develop strategies for Identifying and assessing contaminated sites
To provide timely and appropriate capacity building, technical assistance and technology transfer to developing country Parties
To facilitate the exchange of scientific and technical Information, with particular regard to information on the reduction or elimination of the emissions and releases of mercury
To promote and facilitate the results of Research, Development and Monitoring activities
To cooperate to develop and improve:
Inventories, modelling and monitoring,
Information on the environmental cycle, transport, transformation and fate of Hg, etc.
To report on the measures to be taken to Implement the provisions of the Minamata Convention
To evaluate the effectiveness of the Minamata Convention through, inter alia, comparable monitoring data on the presence of mercury in the environment
Art.8 Emissions and Annex D. List of point sources of emissions of mercury and mercury compounds to the atmosphere

In the future GMOS can play a key role in terms of:
Continuous monitoring of mercury in atmosphere, marine and terrestrial ecosystems in cooperation with UNEP, GEF, WHO and major national programmes;
Technological development of advanced sensors aiming to reduce the investment and running cost of long-term monitoring programmes;
Assist nations in preparing and implementing their National Implementation Plans (NIPs)

Potential Impact:
As well as having potential impact it would be fair to say that GMOS has already made an impact, scientifically, as a proof of concept and also in support of policy making.
The GMOS objective of establishing a global mercury monitoring network was achieved always bearing in mind the necessity to provide data that was intercomparable within the project itself, but that would also be of a standard to meet international standards of intercomparibility. In particular GMOS aimed to comply with the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) aims of providing infrastructure encompassing:

“observation systems: which include ground-, air-, water- and space-based sensors, field surveys and citizen observatories. GEO works to coordinate the planning, sustainability and operation of these systems, aiming to maximize their added-value and use; and

information and processing systems: which include hardware and software tools needed for handling, processing and delivering data from the observation systems to provide information, knowledge, services and products.”

The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) in fact selected GMOS as a showcase for the Workplan (2012-2015) to demonstrate how GEOSS can support Convention and Policies as well as pioneering activity in environmental monitoring using highly advanced e-infrastructure (http://www.gmos.eu/index.php/geossshowcase).
GMOS was GEO Task HE-02 "Tracking Pollutants" https://www.earthobservations.org/ts.php?id=171. The new GEO Strategic plan for 2016-2025 introduces different mechanisms in order to GEO’s Strategic Objectives. In this context the Global Mercury Observation System was selected as a candidate to be a GEO flagship to “allow Members and Participating Organizations with a policy-relevant mandate to spin-up a dedicated operational service serving common needs and/or well-defined user groups”. As such the GEO initiative GI-04 - Global Observing System for Mercury and Permanent Pollutants), is part of the GEO 2016 Work Programme, the details and the activities foreseen for 2016 can be found by following this link,
https://www.earthobservations.org/activity.php?id=37.

GMOS partners together with the UNEP Global Mercury Partnership contributed significantly to the UNEP/AMAP Technical Background Report to the Global Atmospheric Mercury Assessment (2013), which provided the scientific basis to The Global Mercury Assessment 2013: Sources, Emissions, Releases and Environmental Transport.
http://www.unep.org/chemicalsandwaste/Mercury/ReportsandPublications/GlobalMercuryAssessment/tabid/1060889/Default.aspx

During GMOS the Mercury Modelling Task Force was established to encourage modelling groups worldwide that were not directly involved in the Project to begin to make use of GMOS measurement data to perform model intercomparison studies with the GMOS modelling partners this led in 2015 to the publication, under the auspices of UNEP of an update of the modelling of the intercontinental transport and source attribution of mercury deposition “Global Mercury Modelling: Updates of Modelling Results in the Global Mercury Assessment 2013”
http://www.unep.org/chemicalsandwaste/Portals/9/Mercury/GMA%20Report/Report%20-%20Modelling%20update%20of%20the%20GMA2013.pdf.pdf

One of the major environmental treaties to have been signed in the last few years is the Minamata Convention, “The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. It was agreed at the fifth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee in Geneva, Switzerland at 7 a.m. on the morning of Saturday, 19 January 2013”
(from http://www.mercuryconvention.org/Convention/tabid/3426/Default.aspx)
GMOS partners along with the UNEP Global Mercury Partnership contributed directly to the negotiation stages and is specifically mentioned in UNEP(DTIE)/Hg/INC.6/12 “Initial compilation of information on methodologies for acquiring monitoring data or for providing the Conference of the Parties with comparable data”
http://www.mercuryconvention.org/Portals/11/documents/meetings/inc6/English/6_12_e_data.pdf.

The experience gained during GMOS, the development of Standard Operating Procedures for mercury monitoring and the establishment of the Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI), along GEOSS lines, which includes the GMOS Data Quality Management System provide a template to aid countries comply with the requirements of the Minamata convention, see the table below. To become law the Convention must be ratified by 50 of the signatory states, it has already been ratified by 20 at the time of writing.

The future of the SDI will depend on the operational exchange of information and public awareness according to the Minamata Convention. Both will be promoted and facilitated through the SDI that archives and makes available databases on mercury in ambient air, water, biota as well mercury emissions, scenarios and results from modelling.
Main foreseen activities for GMOS and UNEP F&T’s contribution:
Art.8 Emissions and Annex D. List of point sources of emissions of mercury and mercury compounds to the atmosphere: To take measures to control emissions, Inventories of of emissions, Reporting on Implementation of art.8;
Art.9 Releases: To take measures to control releases, Inventories of releases, Reporting on Implementation of art.9;
Art.12 Contaminated sites:To develop strategies for Identifying and assessing contaminated sites;
Art.14 Capacity-building, technical assistance and technology transfer: To provide timely and appropriate capacity building, technical assistance and technology transfer to developing country Parties;
Art.17 Information exchange: To facilitate the exchange of scientific and technical Information, with particular regard to information on the reduction or elimination of the emissions and releases of mercury;
Art.18 Public Information, awareness and education: To promote and facilitate the dissemination of the results of Research, Development and Monitoring activities;
Art.19 Research, development and Monitoring: To cooperate to develop and improve: Inventories, modelling and monitoring, Information on the environmental cycle, transport, transformation and fate of Hg, etc.;
Art.21 Reporting: To report on the measures to be taken to Implement the provisions of the Minamata Convention;
Art. 22 Effectiveness evaluation: To evaluate the effectiveness of the Minamata Convention through, inter alia, comparable monitoring data on the presence of mercury in the environment.

For the first time a global monitoring network for mercury in air and precipitation has been established. The network is not simply made up of Project Partners however, because as the Project was publicised and discussed at numerous workshops, meetings and conferences over the five years of its duration a number of groups with monitoring sites in various parts of the world requested to be able to join. A Memorandum of Understanding was prepared and GMOS obtained a number of external partners who continue to contribute data. Further requests to join are expected in the near future after a number of informal conversations with prospective partners,

During the planning and implementation stage of GMOS, particular attention was paid to set the protocols governing measurement and sampling techniques and harmonization. This is fundamental to being able to provide high quality data and ensure that data management complies with international standards of data interoperability and to guarantee full comparability of site specific observational datasets. The QA/QC protocols do not apply only to the measurement data but also to the performance parameters of the instrumentation.
A major effort was made in particular to implement a centralized system (termed GMOS-Data Quality Management, G-DQM) able to acquire atmospheric Hg data in near real-time and, furthermore, to assure and control quality of collected Hg datasets following the GMOS Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and measurements parameters of the instrumentation.

Harmonized Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were developed and adopted by the GMOS partners, and common Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) protocols designed and implemented at all sites. The SOPs and QA/QC protocols have been based on current SOPs adopted in other regions/networks, on most recent literature as well as on the experience gathered from continuous measurement programs in Europe, US, and elsewhere. The Figure shows G-DQM work-flow with the main step processes on which it is based. The major novelty introduced by the G-DQM system consists in the service approach that facilitate real-time adaptive monitoring and ultimately support real-time decisions based on the SOPs. The implementation of the G-DQM system can prevent the production of poor-quality data as well as can provide a thorough consistency of globally-based data that can be thus effectively used for international negotiations and global models of atmospheric mercury.
The G-DQM will provide a roadmap for countries seeking to implement a number of the Minamata Convention's articles (particularly Articles 19 and 22), and address their obligations as signatories of the Convention. This will permit countries with little or relatively little experience in Earth Observation and the application of data incomparability standards to conform not only to the requisites of the Convention but also to the requirements of GEO and GEOSS, thus providing ever more data for the evaluation and modelling of the global mercury biogeochemical cycle, and the impact that future emission reductions will have.
The GMOS SDI, of which the G-DQM is part has been registered under the GEOSS portal.

The GMOS project has been highlighted by the Horizon 2020 newsroom in the publication “Investing in European success - A Decade of Success in Earth Observation Research and Innovation”, the introduction on the web page states, “Earth observation data and information are vital to allow decision-makers and society in general to take informed decisions about climate, energy, food security, natural hazards, health and other societal challenges. These challenges are complex, interrelated, cross-border in nature and interdependent at the global scale and therefore coordination is essential to avoid duplication of efforts and reduce observational gaps.” The booklet http://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/horizon2020/document.cfm?doc_id=12498 “provides a snapshot of EU-funded projects which illustrate how European research and innovation contribute to this global initiative, showcasing the potential of international collaboration in science for diplomacy.” Thus GMOS provides a template for future European research in the field of Earth Observation within the context of GEO and GEOSS.

A video was produced for the GMOS Project final meeting to summarise the project's scientific results and to illustrate how that science was able to inform policy and aid policy makers in their discussions, particularly in relation to the Minamata Convention. The video can be found here,
https://vimeo.com/143375941, or via the GMOS web page (http://www.gmos.eu/), where links to the final brochure can also be found. The video was appreciated by the representatives of GEO at the final Project meeting and the suggestion made that a short version was produced for the video competition at the GEO-XII Plenary & Mexico City Ministerial Summit, (11-12 November & 13 November 2015, Mexico City, Mexico). The three minute version of the video can be found here,
https://vimeo.com/143397175, it won second prize.

As well as the scientific publications produced during the project, clearly there are still many results which have not yet appeared in the peer-reviewed literature. Two Special Issues, on in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics and another in Marine Chemistry have been agreed with the journal editors and between them will provide an detailed scientific view of the project results. Beyond this the project partners continue to provide input to the UN ECE CLRTAP Task Force on Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollution, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Global Mercury Partnership, and will continue to participate in the meetings of the Intergovernmental negotiating committee on mercury, the Seventh session (INC 7) is due to be held from 10 to 15 March 2016 in Jordan, with regional consultations on 9 March 2016.

List of Websites:
http://www.gmos.eu
http://www.gmos.eu/sdi/
http://www.gmos.eu/index.php/contactus

Related information

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CONSIGLIO NAZIONALE DELLE RICERCHE
Italy
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