31 Aug 2023
 | 31 Aug 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Surface snow bromide and nitrate at Eureka, Canada in early spring and implications for polar boundary layer chemistry

Xin Yang, Kimberly Strong, Alison Criscitiello, Marta Santos-Garcia, Kristof Bognar, Xiaoyi Zhao, Pierre Fogal, Kaley Walker, Sara Morris, and Peter Effertz

Abstract. This study explores the role of snowpack in polar boundary layer chemistry, especially as a direct source of reactive bromine (BrOX=BrO+Br) and nitrogen (NOX=NO+NO2) in the Arctic springtime. Surface snow samples were collected daily from a Canadian high Arctic location at Eureka, Nunavut (80° N, 86° W) from the end of February to the end of March in 2018 and 2019. The snow was sampled at several sites representing distinct environments: sea ice, inland close to sea level, and a hilltop ~600 m above sea level (asl). At the inland sites, surface snow salinity has a double-peak distribution with the first and lowest peak at 0.001–0.002 practical salinity unit (psu), which corresponds to the precipitation effect, and the second peak at 0.01–0.04 psu, which is likely related to the salt accumulation effect (due to loss of water vapour by sublimation). Snow salinity on sea ice has a triple-peak distribution; its first and second peaks overlap with the inland peaks, and the third peak at 0.2–0.4 psu is likely due to the sea water effect (due to upward migration of brine on sea ice). At all sites, snow sodium and chloride concentrations increase by almost 10-fold from the top 0.2 cm to ~1.5 cm in depth. Surface snow bromide at sea level is significantly enriched, indicating a net sink of atmospheric bromine. Moreover, surface snow bromide at sea level has an increasing trend over the measurement time period, with mean slopes of 0.024 in the 0–0.2 cm layer and 0.016 μM d-1 in the 0.2–0.5 cm layer. Surface snow nitrate at sea level also shows a significant increasing trend, with mean slopes of 0.27, 0.20, and 0.07 μM d-1 in the top 0.2 cm, 0.2–0.5 cm, and 0.5–1.5 cm layers, respectively. Using these trends, an integrated net deposition flux of bromide of 1.01×107 molecules cm-2 s-1 and an integrated net deposition flux of nitrate of 2.6×108 molecules cm-2 s-1 were derived. In addition, nitrate and bromide in the morning samples are significantly higher than the afternoon samples, indicating a strong photochemistry effect. However, the mean bromide loss rate (0.027–0.040 μM) is smaller than the nitrate loss rate (0.23–0.362 μM) by an order of magnitude, implying the reactive bromine emission flux from snowpack is significantly smaller than the reactive nitrogen emission flux, which is consistent with the large difference between their derived net deposition fluxes. After considering the photochemical loss effect, the corrected bromide deposition flux at sea level is 2.73×107 molecules cm-2 s-1; for nitrate, the corrected deposition flux is 5.98×108 molecules cm-2 s-1. In addition, the surface snow nitrate and bromide at inland sites were found to be significantly correlated (R=0.48–0.76), and the [NO3-]/[Br-] ratio of 4–7 indicates a possible acceleration effect of reactive bromine in atmospheric NOX-to-nitrate conversion. This is the first time such an effect has been seen in snow chemistry data obtained with a sampling frequency as short as one day.

Xin Yang et al.

Status: open (until 12 Oct 2023)

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Xin Yang et al.


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Short summary
This study uses in-situ field data collected from a Canadian high Arctic site to demonstrate that surface snow in early spring is a net sink of atmospheric bromine and nitrogen. In addition, surface snow bromide and nitrate are significantly correlated, one molecule bromide deposited is accompanied by 4–7 molecules nitrate, indicating the oxidation of reactive nitrogen is accelerated by reactive bromine. This is the first time such an effect was seen in snow chemistry on a time scale of one day.