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Nitrate postdeposition processes in Svalbard surface snow

Journal article
Authors Mats P. Björkman
Carmen P. Vega
Rafael Kühnel
Francesca Spataro
Antonietta Ianniello
Giulio Esposito
Jan Kaiser
Alina Marca
Andy Hodson
Elisabeth Isaksson
Tjarda J. Roberts
Published in Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres
Volume 119
Issue 22
Pages 12,953–12,976
ISSN 0148-0227
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 12,953–12,976
Language en
Keywords snow chemistry;nitrate;postdeposition;BrO chemistry;photolysis;Svalbard
Subject categories Earth and Related Environmental Sciences, Clinical Medicine


The snowpack acts as a sink for atmospheric reactive nitrogen, but several postdeposition pathways have been reported to alter the concentration and isotopic composition of snow nitrate with implications for atmospheric boundary layer chemistry, ice core records, and terrestrial ecology following snow melt. Careful daily sampling of surface snow during winter (11-15 February 2010) and springtime (9 April to 5 May 2010) near Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard reveals a complex pattern of processes within the snowpack. Dry deposition was found to dominate over postdeposition losses, with a net nitrate deposition rate of (0.6+/-0.2) (my) molm 2 d 1 to homogeneous surface snow. At Ny-Ålesund, such surface dry deposition can either solely result from long-range atmospheric transport of oxidized nitrogen or include the redeposition of photolytic/bacterial emission originating from deeper snow layers. Our data further confirm that polar basin air masses bring 15 N-depleted nitrate to Svalbard, while high nitrate (delta) (18O) values only occur in connection with ozone-depleted air, and show that these signatures are reflected in the deposited nitrate. Such ozone-depleted air is attributed to active halogen chemistry in the air masses advected to the site. However, here the Ny-Ålesund surface snow was shown to have an active role in the halogen dynamics for this region, as indicated by declining bromide concentrations and increasing nitrate (delta) (18O), during high BrO (low-ozone) events. The data also indicate that the snowpack BrO-NO x cycling continued in postevent periods, when ambient ozone and BrO levels recovered.

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