Global trends, seasonal cycles, and European emissions of dichloromethane, trichloroethene, and tetrachloroethene from the AGAGE observations at Mace Head, Ireland, and Cape Grim, Tasmania

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, Volume 111, Issue D18, p.D18304 (2006)





Constituent sources and sinks, dichloromethane, Middle atmosphere: composition and chemistry, Pollution: urban and regional, tetrachloroethene, trichloroethene


In situ observations (every 4 hours) of dichloromethane (CH2Cl2) from April 1995 to December 2004 and trichloroethene (C2HCl3) and tetrachloroethene (C2Cl4) from September 2000 to December 2004 are reported for the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE) station at Mace Head, Ireland. At a second AGAGE station at Cape Grim, Tasmania, CH2Cl2 and C2Cl4 data collection commenced in 1998 and 2000, respectively. C2HCl3 is below the limit of detection at Cape Grim except during pollution episodes. At Mace Head CH2Cl2 shows a downward trend from 1995 to 2004 of 0.7 ± 0.2 ppt yr−1 (ppt: expressed as dry mole fractions in 1012), although from 1998 to 2004 the decrease has been only 0.3 ± 0.1ppt yr−1. Conversely, there has been a small but significant growth of 0.05 ± 0.01 ppt yr−1 in CH2Cl2 at Cape Grim. The time series for C2HCl3 and C2Cl4 are relatively short for accurate trend analyses; however, we observe a small but significant decline in C2Cl4 (0.18 ± 0.05 ppt yr−1) at Mace Head. European emissions inferred from AGAGE measurements are compared to recent estimates from industry data and show general agreement for C2HCl3. Emissions estimated from observations are lower than industry emission estimates for C2Cl4 and much lower in the case of CH2Cl2. A study of wildfires in Tasmania, uncontaminated by urban emissions, suggests that the biomass burning source of CH2Cl2 may have been previously overestimated. All three solvents have distinct annual cycles, with the phases and amplitudes reflecting their different chemical reactivity with OH as the primary sink.