Emission of volatile halogenated organic compounds over various Dead Sea landscapes

Moshe Shechner, Alex Guenther, Robert Rhew, Asher Wishkerman, Qian Li, Donald Blake, Gil Lerner, Eran Tas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Volatile halogenated organic compounds (VHOCs), such as methyl halides (CH3X; X is Br, Cl and I) and very short-lived halogenated substances (VSLSs; bromoform-CHBr3, dibromomethane-CH2Br2, bromodichloromethane-CHBrCl2, trichloroethylene-C2HCl3, chloroform-CHCl3- A nd dibromochloromethane-CHBr2Cl) are well known for their significant influence on ozone concentrations and oxidation capacity of the troposphere and stratosphere and for their key role in aerosol formation. Insufficient characterization of the sources and the emission rate of VHOCs limits our ability to understand and assess their impact in both the troposphere and stratosphere. Over the last two decades, several natural terrestrial sources for VHOCs, including soil and vegetation, have been identified, but our knowledge of emission rates from these sources and their responses to changes in ambient conditions remains limited. Here we report measurements of the mixing ratios and fluxes of several chlorinated and brominated VHOCs from different landscapes and natural and agricultural vegetated sites at the Dead Sea during different seasons. Fluxes were generally positive (emission into the atmosphere), corresponding to elevated mixing ratios, but were highly variable. Fluxes (and mixing ratios) for the investigated VHOCs ranged as follows: CHBr3 from 79 to 187 nmolm2 d1 (1.9 to 22.6 pptv), CH2Br2 from 55 to 71 nmolm2 d1 (0.7 to 19 pptv), CHBr2Cl from 408 to 768 nmolm2 d1 (0.4 to 11 pptv), CHBrCl2 from 29 to 45 nmolm2 d1 (0.5 to 9.6 pptv), CHCl3 from 577 to 883 nmolm2 d1 (15 to 57 pptv), C2HCl3 from 74 to 884 nmolm2 d1 (0.4 to 11 pptv), methyl chloride (CH3Cl) from-5300 to 10,800 nmolm2 d1 (530 to 730 pptv), methyl bromide (CH3Br) from 111 to 118 nmolm2 d1 (7.5 to 14 pptv) and methyl iodide (CH3I) from 25 to 17 nmolm2 d1 (0.4 to 2.8 pptv). Taking into account statistical uncertainties, the coastal sites (particularly those where soil is mixed with salt deposits) were identified as sources of all VHOCs, but this was not statistically significant for CHCl3. Further away from the coastal area, the bare soil sites were sources for CHBrCl2, CHBr2Cl, CHCl3, and probably also for CH2Br2 and CH3I, and the agricultural sites were sources for CHBr3, CHBr2Cl and CHBrCl2. In contrast to previous reports, we also observed emissions of brominated trihalomethanes, with net molar fluxes ordered as follows: CHBr2Cl > CHCl3 > CHBr3 > CHBrCl2 and lowest positive flux incidence for CHCl3 among all trihalomethanes; this finding can be explained by the soil's enrichment with Br. Correlation analysis, in agreement with recent studies, indicated common controls for the emission of CHBr2Cl and CHBrCl2 and likely also for CHBr3. There were no indications for correlation of the brominated trihalomethanes with CHCl3. Also in line with previous reports, we observed elevated emissions of CHCl3 and C2HCl3 from mixtures of soil and different salt-deposited structures; the flux correlations between these compounds and methyl halides (particularly CH3I) suggested that at least CH3I is also emitted via similar mechanisms or is subjected to similar controls. Overall, our results indicate elevated emission of VHOCs from bare soil under semiarid conditions. Along with other recent studies, our findings point to the strong emission potential of a suite of VHOCs from saline soils and salt lakes and call for additional studies of emission rates and mechanisms of VHOCs from saline soils and salt lakes.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)7667-7690
Number of pages24
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number11
StatePublished - 7 Jun 2019

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