Short‐lived halocarbon tracers were used to investigate marine influences on air quality in a coastal region of New England. Atmospheric measurements made at the University of New Hampshire's Observing Station at Thompson Farm (TF) in Durham, New Hampshire, indicate that relatively large amounts of halocarbons are emitted from local estuarine and coastal oceanic regions. Bromine‐containing halocarbons of interest in this work include bromoform (CHBr3) and dibromomethane (CH2Br2). The mean mixing ratios of CHBr3 and CH2Br2 from 11 January to 5 March 2002 were 2.6 pptv and 1.6 pptv, and from 1 June to 31 August 2002 mean mixing ratios were 5.9 pptv and 1.4 pptv, respectively. The mean mixing ratio of CHBr3 was not only highest during summer, but both CHBr3 and CH2Br2 exhibited large variability in their atmospheric mixing ratios during this season. We attribute the greater variability to increased production combined with faster atmospheric removal rates. Other seasonal characteristics of CHBr3 and CH2Br2 in the atmosphere, as well as the impact of local meteorology on their distributions at this coastal site, are discussed. Tetrachloroethene (C2Cl4) and trichloroethene (C2HCl3) were used to identify time periods influenced by urban emissions. Additionally, measurements of CHBr3, CH2Br2, C2Cl4, methyl iodide (CH3I), and ethyl iodide (C2H5I) were made at TF and five sites throughout the nearby Great Bay estuarine area between 18 and 19 August 2003. These measurements were used to elucidate the effect of the tidal cycle on the distributions of these gases. The mean mixing ratios of CHBr3, CH2Br2, CH3I, and C2H5I were ∼82%, 46%, 14%, and 17% higher, respectively, near the coast compared to inland sites, providing evidence for a marine source of short‐lived halocarbons at TF. Correlation between the tidal cycle and atmospheric concentrations of marine tracers on the night of 18 August 2003 showed that the highest values for the brominated species occurred ∼2–3 hours after high tide. Emission fluxes of CHBr3, CH2Br2, CH3I, and C2H5I on this night were estimated to be 26 ± 57, 4.7 ± 5.4, 5.9 ± 4.6, and 0.065 ± 0.20 nmol m−2 h−1, respectively. Finally, the anthropogenic source strength of CHBr3 was calculated to determine its impact on atmospheric levels observed in this region. Although our results indicate that anthropogenic contributions could potentially range from 15 to 60% of the total dissolved CHBr3 in the Great Bay, based on the observed ratio of CH2Br2/CHBr3 and surface seawater measurements in the Gulf of Maine, it appears unlikely that anthropogenic activities are a significant source of CHBr3 in the region.

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres


American Geophysical Union (AGU)

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Document Type



©2005. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. This is an article published by AGU in Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres in 2005, available online: