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Large particles containing nitric acid (HNO3) were observed in the 1999/2000 Arctic winter stratosphere. These in situ observations were made over a large altitude range (16 to 21 kilometers) and horizontal extent (1800 kilometers) on several airborne sampling flights during a period of several weeks. With diameters of 10 to 20 micrometers, these sedimenting particles have significant potential to denitrify the lower stratosphere. A microphysical model of nitric acid trihydrate particles is able to simulate the growth and sedimentation of these large sizes in the lower stratosphere, but the nucleation process is not yet known. Accurate modeling of the formation of these large particles is essential for understanding Arctic denitrification and predicting future Arctic ozone abundances.
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