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Monday, November 24, 2008

Environmental Research Letters: Focus on connections between atmospheric chemistry and snow and ice

Environmental Research Letters, 3 (2008) o45oo4.


Ice in the environment: connections to atmospheric chemistry

V Faye McNeill et al 2008 Environ. Res. Lett. 3 045004 (1pp) doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/3/4/045004

PDF (33 KB)

V Faye McNeill1 and Meredith G Hastings2
1 Columbia University, New York, NY, U.S.A.
2 Brown University, Providence, RI, U.S.A.

Ice in the environment, whether in the form of ice particles in clouds or sea ice and snow at the Earth's surface, has a profound influence on atmospheric composition and climate. The interaction of trace atmospheric gases with snow and sea ice surfaces largely controls atmospheric composition in polar regions. The heterogeneous chemistry of ice particles in clouds also plays critical roles in polar stratospheric ozone depletion and in tropospheric chemistry. A quantitative physical understanding of the interactions of snow and ice with trace gases is critical for predicting the effects of climate change on atmospheric composition, for the interpretation of ice core chemical records, and for modeling atmospheric chemistry.

The motivation behind this focus issue of Environmental Research Letters (ERL), and the special session at the Fall 2007 meeting of the American Geophysical Union that generated it, was to enhance communication and interactions among field and laboratory scientists and modelers working in this area. Members of these three groups are each working toward a mutual goal of understanding and quantifying the connections between the chemistry of snow and ice in the environment and atmospheric composition, and communication and collaboration across these traditional disciplinary boundaries pose a challenge for the community.

We are pleased to present new work from several current leaders in the field and laboratory communities in this focus issue. Topics include the interaction of organics and mercury with snow and ice surfaces, halogen activation from halide ice, and the emissions of reactive nitrogen oxides from snow. Novel experimental techniques are presented that make progress towards overcoming the experimental challenges of quantifying the chemistry of realistic snow samples and ice chemistry at temperatures relevant to the polar boundary layer. Several of the papers in this issue also touch on one of the significant gaps in our current understanding of the atmospheric chemistry of ice: the role of a quasi-liquid layer (QLL) or quasi-brine layer (QBL) at the ice surface.

The studies presented here advance our understanding of the complex interactions of snow and ice with important reactive components in our atmosphere. It has become clear in recent years that the polar regions do not act as an ultimate sink for many compounds—the release of halogens and reactive nitrogen oxides from ice and snow are examples of this. Two notable implications arise from these findings (i) the impact of anthropogenic pollutants in our environment may extend further than we fully appreciate with current global atmospheric chemistry models and (ii) our interpretation of chemical records in ice cores requires that we fundamentally understand and quantify air–snow and air–ice interactions. Additionally, laboratory studies are elucidating the details of heterogeneous reactions that are prevalent on ice and snow surfaces throughout the troposphere, and we are poised to make significant strides in the near future quantifying these effects on regional and global scales. We look forward to continued progress in this field in the coming years, and we will continue to work to connect those conducting modeling, field and laboratory studies.

Focus on Connections between Atmospheric Chemistry and Snow and Ice Contents

HONO emissions from snow surfaces
Harry Beine, Agustín J Colussi, Antonio Amoroso, Giulio Esposito, Mauro Montagnoli and Michael R Hoffmann

Heterogeneous ozonation kinetics of phenanthrene at the air–ice interface
T F Kahan and D J Donaldson

Release of gas-phase halogens from sodium halide substrates: heterogeneous oxidation of frozen solutions and desiccated salts by hydroxyl radicals
S J Sjostedt and J P D Abbatt

Uptake of acetone, ethanol and benzene to snow and ice: effects of surface area and temperature
J P D Abbatt, T Bartels-Rausch, M Ullerstam and T J Ye

Interaction of gaseous elemental mercury with snow surfaces: laboratory investigation
Thorsten Bartels-Rausch, Thomas Huthwelker, Martin Jöri, Heinz W Gäggeler and Markus Ammann

Major solutes, metals, and alkylated aromatic compounds in high-latitude maritime snowpacks near the trans-Alaska pipeline terminal, Valdez, Alaska
Jonathan P Bower, Eran Hood and Lisa A Hoferkamp


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