Journal Highlights

Can We Monitor Snow Properties on Sea Ice to Investigate Its Role in Tropospheric Ozone Depletion?

Commentary in JGR-Atmospheres 

In the lower troposphere over the Arctic Ocean, ozone is often destroyed in spring by chemical chain reactions involving the reactive bromine species Br and BrO. The role of surface snow in generating reactive bromine has been suspected, but many details of the processes not understood. Using unique data such as BrO concentrations from instruments on buoys, Burd et al. (2017) observed that the snowmelt onset date often coincides with the end of the reactive bromine season...More

By Florent Domine, Takuvik Joint International Laboratory, Université Laval, Québec City, Quebec, Canada

Blog—Researchers take on atmospheric effects of Arctic snowmelt

Researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute are exploring the changing chemistry of the Arctic’s atmosphere to help answer the question of what happens as snow and ice begin to melt.

The research is concerned with the Arctic’s reactive bromine season, the period of time when bromine is consuming ozone, producing bromine monoxide and oxidizing mercury.

“There’s a really profound difference between solid water and liquid water in terms of reactivity,” said William Simpson, an atmospheric chemist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and lead author of a new study detailing the research in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. “Because the reactive bromine season ends when snowpack begins to melt, “earlier melt is changing what is happening in the atmosphere.”…More

Editor’s Highlight—New findings improve our ability to understand and model snow chemistry

This paper correlates the factors that control the seasonal dependence of bromine monoxide in the Arctic springtime boundary layer with the onset of snow melt. This is the first field evidence to show that the physical state of the surfaces where reaction take place has an effect on reaction rates and products. When the surfaces are ice, reactions take place; when the ice surfaces melt, no detectable reaction occurs. This has major bearing on our ability to understand and model snow chemistry.