Snow nitrate photolysis in polar regions and the mid-latitudes: Impact on boundary layer chemistry and implications for ice core records
Zatko, Maria Christine
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The formation and recycling of nitrogen oxides (NOx=NO+NO2) associated with snow nitrate photolysis has important implications for air quality and the preservation of nitrate in ice core records. This dissertation examines snow nitrate photolysis in polar and mid-latitude regions using field and laboratory based observations combined with snow chemistry column models and a global chemical transport model to explore the impacts of snow nitrate photolysis on boundary layer chemistry and the preservation of nitrate in polar ice cores. Chapter 1 describes how a global chemical transport model is used to calculate the photolysis-driven flux and redistribution of nitrogen across Antarctica, and Chapter 2 presents similar work for Greenland. Snow-sourced NOx is most dependent on the quantum yield for nitrate photolysis as well as the concentration of photolabile nitrate and light-absorbing impurities (e.g., black carbon, dust, organics) in snow. Model-calculated fluxes of snow-sourced NOx are similar in magnitude in Antarctica (0.5-7.8x108 molec cm-2 s-1) and Greenland (0.1-6.4x108 molec cm-2 s-1) because both nitrate and light-absorbing impurity concentrations in snow are higher (by factors of 2 and 10, respectively) in Greenland. Snow nitrate photolysis influences boundary layer chemistry and ice-core nitrate preservation less in Greenland compared to Antarctica largely due to Greenland’s proximity to NOx-source regions. Chapter 3 describes how a snow chemistry column model combined with chemistry and optical measurements from the Uintah Basin Winter Ozone Study (UBWOS) 2014 is used to calculate snow-sourced NOx in eastern Utah. Daily-averaged fluxes of snow-sourced NOx (2.9x107-1.3x108 molec cm-2 s-1) are similar in magnitude to polar snow-sourced NOx fluxes, but are only minor components of the Uintah Basin boundary layer NOx budget and can be neglected when developing ozone reduction strategies for the region. Chapter 4 presents chemical and optical measurements made during the Sea Ice Physics and Ecosystems eXperiment II (SIPEXII) in the East Antarctic sea ice zone. Vertical profiles of δ15N(NO3-) in snow suggest that snow-sourced NOx from Antarctica is transported to the sea-ice zone. These studies suggest that snow-sourced NOx fluxes are similar in magnitude globally and that their impacts on boundary layer chemistry are linked to boundary layer pollution levels.
- Atmospheric sciences