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Successful Mercury Measurement Campaign at Mount Etna

An airport and the little town of Linguaglossa at the foot of the Sicilian volcano, Mount Etna, became a research base for Prof. Dr. Ralf Ebinghaus and Andreas Weigelt of the Institute of Coastal Research at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht. From 29th July to the 3rd August, this was the location for an international measuring campaign, carried out in the scope of the EU project, Global Mercury Observation System (GMOS). Measurements were taken of the mercury emissions from the 3,300 metre high Mount Etna. The background of the campaign: the significance of natural sources must be known in order to assess the potential for the reduction of man-made mercury emissions.

Prof. Dr. Ralf Ebinghaus in a group of international scientists in front of the vulcano Mount Etna

Prof. Dr. Ralf Ebinghaus with international scientists in front of the volcano Etna. Photo: HZG

Volcanoes are one of the natural sources of mercury emissions.
Together with scientists from Cambridge, Oxford and Rome, Ralf Ebinghaus, head of the Department of Environmental Chemistry at the Institute of Coastal Research, and Andreas Weigelt, carried out a large-scale measurement campaign to analyse the mercury content of gases emitted from the Etna volcano.
The scientists wish to utilise these results in order to assess how and by which routes the mercury emissions are spreading out globally.

Together with his Italian colleagues, Ralf Ebinghaus examined the mercury content of the air below the crater edge. Using an airplane, Andreas Weigelt measured how much mercury is emitted into the atmosphere with the volcano gases – the meteorologist and environmental chemist gave a report on this measurement campaign in an interview.

Interview with Andreas Weigelt

The objective of the GMOS project is to build up an integrated global mercury observation network which will also be operated in the long term. Ralf Ebinghaus and Volker Matthias from the Department of Environmental Chemistry are leading the two GMOS work groups Regional Modelling and Airborne Measurements.

More Information

Department Environmental Chemistry EU-Project GMOS


Head of Press Department

Dr. Torsten Fischer
Dr. Torsten Fischer

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