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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions


Thayer School of Engineering


It is well known that during polar springtime halide sea salt ions, in particular Br-, are photochemically activated into reactive halogen species (e.g., Br and BrO), where they break down tropospheric ozone. This research investigated the role of blowing snow in transporting salts from the sea ice/snow surface into reactive bromine species in the air. At two different locations over first-year ice in the Ross Sea, Antarctica, collection baskets captured blowing snow at different heights. In addition, sea ice cores and surface snow samples were collected throughout the month-long campaign. Over this time, sea ice and surface snow Br- / Cl- mass ratios remained constant and equivalent to seawater, and only in lofted snow did bromide become depleted relative to chloride. This suggests that replenishment of bromide in the snowpack occurs faster than bromine activation in mid-strength wind conditions (approximately 10 m s−1) or that blowing snow represents only a small portion of the surface snowpack. Additionally, lofted snow was found to be depleted in sulfate and enriched in nitrate relative to surface snow.