The Red Sea Deep Water is a potent source of atmospheric ethane and propane

Efstratios Bourtsoukidis, A. Pozzer, T. Sattler, V. N. Matthaios, L. Ernle, A. Edtbauer, H. Fischer, T. Könemann, Sergey Osipov, J. D. Paris, Eva Y. Pfannerstill, C. Stönner, Ivan Tadic, David Walter, N. Wang, Jos Lelieveld, J. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHCs) such as ethane and propane are significant atmospheric pollutants and precursors of tropospheric ozone, while the Middle East is a global emission hotspot due to extensive oil and gas production. Here we compare in situ hydrocarbon measurements, performed around the Arabian Peninsula, with global model simulations that include current emission inventories (EDGAR) and state-of-the-art atmospheric circulation and chemistry mechanisms (EMAC model). While measurements of high mixing ratios over the Arabian Gulf are adequately simulated, strong underprediction by the model was found over the northern Red Sea. By examining the individual sources in the model and by utilizing air mass back-trajectory investigations and Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) analysis, we deduce that Red Sea Deep Water (RSDW) is an unexpected, potent source of atmospheric NMHCs. This overlooked underwater source is comparable with total anthropogenic emissions from entire Middle Eastern countries, and significantly impacts the regional atmospheric chemistry.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 28 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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