Special Reviews

Air-Snow Interactions and Atmospheric Chemistry

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Science  30 Aug 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5586, pp. 1506-1510
DOI: 10.1126/science.1074610

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The presence of snow greatly perturbs the composition of near-surface polar air, and the higher concentrations of hydroxyl radicals (OH) observed result in a greater oxidative capacity of the lower atmosphere. Emissions of nitrogen oxides, nitrous acid, light aldehydes, acetone, and molecular halogens have also been detected. Photolysis of nitrate ions contained in the snow appears to play an important role in creating these perturbations. OH formed in the snowpack can oxidize organic matter and halide ions in the snow, producing carbonyl compounds and halogens that are released to the atmosphere or incorporated into snow crystals. These reactions modify the composition of the snow, of the interstitial air, and of the overlying atmosphere. Reconstructing the composition of past atmospheres from ice-core analyses may therefore require complex corrections and modeling for reactive species.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: florent{at}lgge.obs.ujf-grenoble.fr, pshepson{at}purdue.edu

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