Who would have guessed it? Sunlit snow key to Arctic ozone depletion

I like this study from the NSF, because they did hands-on empirical measurements and experiments to make  the determination – Anthony

Sunlit Snow Triggers Atmospheric Cleaning, Ozone Depletion in the Arctic

Finding is related to snow atop sea ice, adding a new dimension to scientific concerns about loss of Arctic ice

Scientist conductiong a snow-chamber experiment

Kerri Pratt conducts a snow-chamber experiment near Barrow, Alaska.
Credit and Larger Version

April 19, 2013

National Science Foundation-funded researchers at Purdue University have discovered that sunlit snow is the major source of atmospheric bromine in the Arctic, the key to unique chemical reactions that purge pollutants and destroy ozone.

The new research also indicates that the surface snowpack above Arctic sea ice plays a previously unappreciated role in the bromine cycle and that loss of sea ice, which been occurring at an increasingly rapid pace in recent years, could have extremely disruptive effects in the balance of atmospheric chemistry in high latitudes.

The team’s findings suggest the rapidly changing Arctic climate–where surface temperatures are rising three times faster than the global average–could dramatically change its atmospheric chemistry, said Paul Shepson, an NSF-funded researcher who led the research team. The experiments were conducted by Kerri Pratt, a postdoctoral researcher funded by the Division of Polar Programs in NSF’s Geosciences Directorate.

“We are racing to understand exactly what happens in the Arctic and how it affects the planet because it is a delicate balance when it comes to an atmosphere that is hospitable to human life,” said Shepson, who also is a founding member of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center. “The composition of the atmosphere determines air temperatures, weather patterns and is responsible for chemical reactions that clean the air of pollutants.”

A paper detailing the results of the research, some of which was funded by NSF and some by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, was recently published online at Nature Geoscience.

Ozone in the lower atmosphere behaves differently from the stratospheric ozone involved in the planet’s protective ozone layer. This lower atmosphere ozone is a greenhouse gas that is toxic to humans and plants, but it also is an essential cleaning agent of the atmosphere.

Interactions between sunlight, ozone and water vapor create an “oxidizing agent” that scrubs the atmosphere of most of the pollutants human activity releases into it, Shepson said.

Temperatures at the poles are too cold for the existence of much water vapor and in the Arctic this cleaning process appears instead to rely on reactions on frozen surfaces involving molecular bromine, a halogen gas derived from sea salt.

This gaseous bromine reacts with and destroys atmospheric ozone. This aspect of the bromine chemistry works so efficiently in the Arctic that ozone is often entirely depleted from the atmosphere above sea ice in the spring, Shepson noted.

“This is just a part of atmospheric ozone chemistry that we don’t understand very well, and this unique Arctic chemistry teaches us about the potential role of bromine in other parts of the planet,” he said. “Bromine chemistry mediates the amount of ozone, but it is dependent on snow and sea ice, which means climate change may have important feedbacks with ozone chemistry.”

While it was known that there is more atmospheric bromine in polar regions, the specific source of the natural gaseous bromine has remained in question for several decades, said Pratt, a Polar Programs-funded postdoctoral fellow and lead author of the paper.

“We thought that the fastest and best way to understand what is happening in the Arctic was to go there and do the experiments right where the chemistry is happening,” Pratt said.

She and Purdue graduate student Kyle Custard performed the experiments in -45 to -34 Celsius (-50 to -30 Fahrenheit) wind chills near Barrow, Alaska. The team examined first-year sea ice, salty icicles and snow and found that the source of the bromine gas was the top surface snow above both sea ice and tundra.

“Sea ice had been thought to be the source of the gaseous bromine,” she said. “We had an ‘of course!’ moment when we realized it was the snow on top of the sea ice. The snow is what is in direct contact with the atmosphere. Sea ice is critical to the process, though. Without it, the snow would fall into the ocean, and this chemistry wouldn’t take place. This is among the reasons why the loss of sea ice in the Arctic will directly impact atmospheric chemistry.”

The team also discovered that sunlight triggered the release of bromine gas from the snow and the presence of ozone increased the production of bromine gas.

“Salts from the ocean and acids from a layer of smog called Arctic haze meet on the frozen surface of the snow, and this unique chemistry occurs,” Pratt said. “It is the interface of the snow and atmosphere that is the key.”

A series of chemical reactions that quickly multiplies the amount of bromine gas present, called the “bromine explosion,” is known to occur in the atmosphere. The team suggests this also occurs in the spaces between the snow crystals and wind then releases the bromine gas up into the air above the snow.

The team performed 10 experiments with snow and ice samples contained in a “snow chamber,” a box constructed of aluminum with a special coating to prevent surface reactions and a clear acrylic top. Clean air with and without ozone was allowed to flow through the chamber and experiments were performed in darkness and in natural sunlight.

The team also measured the levels of bromine monoxide, a compound formed from the reaction of bromine atoms with ozone, through flights of the Purdue Airborne Laboratory for Atmospheric Research.

Shepson is the pilot of this specially equipped aircraft, which he and air operations technical specialist Brian Stirm flew from Indiana to Barrow for these experiments. They found the compound was most prevalent over snow-covered first-year sea ice and tundra, consistent with their snow chamber experiments.

The experiments were performed from March to April 2012 and were part of NASA’s Bromine, Ozone and Mercury Experiment, or BROMEX. The goal of the study is to understand the implications of Arctic sea ice reduction on tropospheric chemistry.

Shepson’s group next plans to perform laboratory studies to test the proposed reaction mechanisms and to return to Barrow to perform more snow chamber experiments.

In addition, Shepson is co-leading a team using ice-tethered buoys to measure carbon dioxide, ozone and bromine monoxide across the Arctic Ocean, and Pratt is working with scientists from the University of Washington to examine the chemistry of snow from across the Arctic Ocean.

“In the Arctic, climate change is happening at an accelerated pace,” Pratt said. “A big question is what will happen to atmospheric composition in the Arctic as the temperatures rise and snow and ice decline even further?”

-NSF-

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53 Responses to Who would have guessed it? Sunlit snow key to Arctic ozone depletion

  1. Peter Ward says:

    Does this have any linkage with ozone holes over the poles? If so, the size of the holes should be correlated with the amount of ice.

  2. Eric Worrall says:

    Lets see – during the solar maximum in the latter 20th century, there was more sunlight than normal due to reduced cosmic ray flux seeding clouds, which means there would have been more more sunlight striking polar ice, which would have released more bromine, which would have depleted more ozone, leading to a hole in the ozone layer above the largest body of ice, Antarctica.

    Nah that explanation would never fly – it doesn’t include the obligatory dose of human guilt.

  3. Richard111 says:

    All very good but a bit late I think. Our fridges and autos are now filled with ‘ozone friendly’ gases that can explode and burn which it now seems were never needed in the first place.

  4. thisisnotgoodtogo says:

    -45 degrees wind chill.
    Even Mr. Custard must have found it no trifling matter.

  5. pat says:

    Wow. A hypothesis that has only been around for 50 years.
    (There were only two hypothesis given credence in the 60′s. Reflection and magnetism that i am aware of. Of course everything I know came from Popular Scientist until 8th Grade).

  6. Dave Wendt says:

    “This gaseous bromine reacts with and destroys atmospheric ozone. This aspect of the bromine chemistry works so efficiently in the Arctic that ozone is often entirely depleted from the atmosphere above sea ice in the spring, Shepson noted.”

    “The experiments were performed from March to April 2012 and were part of NASA’s Bromine, Ozone and Mercury Experiment, or BROMEX. The goal of the study is to understand the implications of Arctic sea ice reduction on tropospheric chemistry.”

    Even in years with maximum depletion of sea ice in the Arctic the ice has returned to wall to wall coverage by the following March. The above quotes would suggest that the phenomenon has done its work by the end of April. The minimum sea ice occurs at mid September when sunlight is also near minimum and is about to go to zero. So until someone suggests that the Arctic Ocean won’t refreeze over the course of the winter I don’t suspect that there will be a real problem with this phenomenon for a while. Anthony, I do share your admiration for them at least using an empirical scientific approach to attempting to solve this question. I just wish they could refrain from ladening their PR with the usual doom mongering, but that’s probably too much to hope for nowadays.

  7. William McClenney says:

    Brown 25?

  8. QUOTE ““We are racing to understand exactly what happens in the Arctic and how it affects the planet because it is a delicate balance when it comes to an atmosphere that is hospitable to human life,— This lower atmosphere ozone is a greenhouse gas that is toxic to humans and plants”/QUOTE
    hmmm that’s interesting, golly gosh how did life survive the 4 preceding major Ice Ages & man the last ice age?

  9. Stephen Skinner says:

    We have this sentence:
    “Temperatures at the poles are too cold for the existence of much water vapor”
    And then this:
    “A big question is what will happen to atmospheric composition in the Arctic as the temperatures rise and snow and ice decline even further?”
    If temperature rises in the arctic then the atmosphere there can hold more moisture? Also, the first sentence is a static view of air temperature and moisture content. The Arctic is an open system surrounded on all sides by somewhere that is warmer. Any air brought in from somewhere outside the arctic will also bring it’s moisture which I assume is where most of the arctic snow comes from.

  10. phlogiston says:

    What is happening to stratospheric ozone at present? I have noticed in our recent very brief sunny interlude in our late 2013 spring, that several people including myself went red / brown quite quickly after a few minutes or hours in the sunlight. A purely anecdotal observation but is there any thinning of ozone in the NH?

  11. John F. Hultquist says:

    Interesting, yes. Anything to do with CAGW? Not much. Arctic sea ice and snow have decreased and increased in prior years, so in this sense, there is not much to get excited about.

    They ask: “. . . what will happen to atmospheric composition in the Arctic as the temperatures rise . . .

    rise

    What can rise can fall. They will need more funding and as the young folks take positions at other institutions they will need new labs, student support, travel expenses, and so on.

    It is a shame the US wasted so much money on Fisker, Solyndra, Ener1, A123 Systems . . .

  12. anthem2013 says:

    Interesting stuff.

    I would love to be a fly on the wall in 200 years time when they’re all laughing about how we chucked billions down the drain in the equivalent of trying to do something about the flatness of the earth.

    I also couldn’t help but smile at this modest little quote:-

    “We are racing to understand exactly what happens in the Arctic and how it affects the planet because it is a delicate balance when it comes to an atmosphere that is hospitable to human life,” said Shepson.

    Read: Yes, we really are saving the world. Just like Superman does. Gotta dash now, I have the human race to rescue.

  13. David Schofield says:

    “she said. “We had an ‘of course!’ moment”

    I prefer scientists to use ‘eureka’. In psychology it’s called an aha moment.

    And why do I get a feeling that the snow chamber is supposed to be further away from the building? ;-)

  14. Otter says:

    I seem to recall that the ozone hole over the Antarctic was very much larger just in the past year or three. Wondering if it couldn’t be related to the huge increase in sea ice / accumulation of snow, both on sea ice and the continent?

  15. PiperPaul says:

    If more real scientists used, “Eureka!” in its original, legendary context (running nekkid from the bathtub) they’d get more MSM attention. Oh wait…maybe not, depending. In any case, it would be better than that ‘F*ck for the Environment’ idiocy was. I didn’t bother visiting the link to learn more.

  16. vukcevic says:

    The team’s findings suggest the rapidly changing Arctic climate–where surface temperatures are rising three times faster than the global average

    It is so because Arctic is ‘warmed’ by the North Atlantic currents, after considering the thermal capacity of water and its temperature rise of 0.4C with absolute value in vicinity of 0C, it is no surprise that the Arctic athmospheric temperatures above it would rise, let’s say from –n degrees C to –n+1.2 degrees C.

    In the Arctic, climate change is happening at an accelerated pace,” Pratt said. “A big question is what will happen to atmospheric composition in the Arctic as the temperatures rise and snow and ice decline even further?”

    No fear, the North Atlantic SST, is at its plateau, and by all accounts (even of those of the arch warmista such as Mann and Hansen) the AMO is about to turn down, if even temporarily.
    The Arctic Ocean temperature will fall, and consequently it is expected that atmospheric temperatures above it would fall back too.

  17. Gary Hladik says:

    “National Science Foundation-funded researchers at Purdue University have discovered that sunlit snow is the major source of atmospheric bromine in the Arctic, the key to unique chemical reactions that purge pollutants and destroy ozone.”

    So during those periods in our planet’s history when there was no ice or snow at the poles, the pollutants from all those dinosaur SUVs must have been stifling! :-)

  18. Otter says:

    Further thought: While they don’t actually state it, are they suggesting that we ‘must’ do something about the ‘warming’ Arctic, in order to keep the ozone hole intact? Because the loss of it would ‘harm’ us?

  19. Crispin in Waterloo says:

    Relevant here are two papers by Prof Lu (Univ of Waterloo) on the subject of the interaction between GCR’s and bromine and the quantity of ozone in the polar atmosphere.

    The first is:
    http://www.science.uwaterloo.ca/~qblu/Lu-2009PRL.pdf

    There was a follow up paper in 2010.

    As the natural sources of bromine dwarf the human ones, it may have been a bit over-zealous to ban CFC’s because of their putative strength or influence. Bromine-based insecticides have also been banned because ‘bromine was implicated in the destruction of the ozone layer’. Bromine is definitely involved in the destruction of ozone and cosmic rays are effective enhancers of this (entirely natural) process. The major source of atmospheric bromine, just like mercury, is the ocean. Next thing you know, it will be found that CO2 has the same source. Won’t that be a surprise.

    The connection to a ‘warming Arctic’ is a bit tenuous. First it says that the Arctic is warming ‘three times’ faster than the rest of the planet, a plant which is not warming at all. What exactly is the denominator in that ratio? I thought the warming Arctic was the cause of increased snowfall. Using the novel idea of actually looking at temperatures, it is easily shown that the air temperature in the Arctic is not higher in summer than it has been. “Warming” has been from less-frigging-cold winter temperatures, strongly influenced by warm water incursions. In other words, business as usual.

    Next, this effect (bromine release) is not entirely dependent on ‘sea ice’ or snow upon it but I won’t quibble. The omission of the GRC connection is much more important that some error about the totality of the bromine cycle. What is really clear is that the ozone hole is naturally caused, involves the same culprit bromine as previous studies showed, that sunlight has a strong influence, and that the ozone hole will always be there to a greater or lesser extent for reasons that have nothing to do with human industrial activity.

  20. Kelvin Vaughan says:

    Let’s get to reality.When is this winter going to end? I’m freezing!

  21. Dr. John M. Ware says:

    According to the Law of the Conservation of Matter, all the bromine on earth is now and ever has been. Thus, whatever comes out of the snow and enters into compounds is still there, and in future reactions will revisit earlier forms of its existence. Nothing to worry about. It is impressive, nonetheless, that these people from Purdue, a great university in my former home state, actually went to Barrow and conducted experiments; encouraging! Not models!

  22. Jimbo says:

    “We are racing to understand exactly what happens in the Arctic and how it affects the planet because it is a delicate balance when it comes to an atmosphere that is hospitable to human life,”

    Why race?

    Abstract
    …..We therefore conclude that for a priod in the Early Holocene, probably for a millenium or more, the Arctic Ocean was free of sea ice at least for shorter periods in the summer……
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2007AGUFMPP11A0203F

    Abstract
    …..Arctic sea ice cover was strongly reduced during most of the early Holocene and there appear to have been periods of ice free summers in the central Arctic Ocean……
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277379110003185

  23. We do not know if Arctic ice will continue its decline instead of returning to the up part of the cycle. My guess, given zero news of declining ice formation this winter, is that ice is returning to greater cover. This summer will show whether ice is returning.
    Good to see a real experiment and not a model in sight.

  24. Paul Vaughan says:

    ““We thought that the fastest and best way to understand what is happening in the Arctic was to go there and do the experiments right where the chemistry is happening,” Pratt said.”

    Wastefully eccentric thinking by climate modeler “logic” no doubt.

  25. Jens Bagh says:

    What is the origin of the Bromine in the snow and how did it get there?

  26. AndyG55 says:

    “In the Arctic, climate change is happening at an accelerated pace,”

    Gees, if you look at this years temps, they are pretty darn close to the ERA 40 year average, and WAY below any melting !!
    http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/plots/meanTarchive/meanT_2013.png

  27. Ozone in the lower atmosphere behaves differently from the stratospheric ozone involved in the planet’s protective ozone layer.

    So let me get this straight – this is nothing to do with the “Ozone Hole” we hear so much about (especially here in New Zealand) caused supposedly by CFC’s etc – but is all to do with lower atmospheric ozone that is supposedly yet another greenhouse gas.

    So with lower ice coverage in the Arctic, lower atmospheric ozone should increase? And conversely, increased ice coverage in the Antarctic should see a reduction in lower atmospheric ozone.

    Our Ozone hole is secured then?

    Andi

  28. Bloke down the pub says:

    “We thought that the fastest and best way to understand what is happening in the Arctic was to go there and do the experiments right where the chemistry is happening,” Pratt said.

    Nah, that’ll never catch on. Shirley they need computer models to confirm their findings.

  29. RACookPE1978 says:

    Odd “conclusions” here about future “disasters” and projections of future Arctic ice coverages based on what was actually studied and WHEN the study was made and WHERE the study was made and HOW the proposed chemical reactions take place in the fresh snow.

    They did their studies in place – which is fantastic and very rare among the CAGW-funded community of peer-challenged (er, peer-restrained) (rather, peer-reviewed) scientists.

    However, they did their study and gathered their material samples off of north Alaska coast in the spring, right at the time of maximum (fresh) snow coverage over the maximum sea ice extent. Later in the summer through mid-September, there is NO sea ice in that area at all, and very little “fresh snow” over the remaining sea ice up around 80 North latitude. Given that – year-to-year – the sea ice melts and there is no fresh snow to promote their reaction over 90+ percent of the Arctic, how do they proposed their reaction takes place? Granted, since the current sea ice extent is less than it was 10 years ago, there could be a reduction in amount of reactants (compared to 10 or 25 years ago.)

    But, how do they think their reaction happens all year around when there is only a small area of the Arctic “normally” covered by any sea ice, and that area has little fresh snow for so much of the year?

  30. Bloke down the pub says:

    RACookPE1978 says:
    April 25, 2013 at 3:51 am

    But, how do they think their reaction happens all year around when there is only a small area of the Arctic “normally” covered by any sea ice, and that area has little fresh snow for so much of the year?

    As the reaction requires sunlight, I don’t think they do believe it happens all year round.

  31. Bob says:

    “Interactions between sunlight, ozone and water vapor create an “oxidizing agent” that scrubs the atmosphere of most of the pollutants human activity releases into it, Shepson said.”
    I thought ozone was an oxidizing agent without needing water vapor and sunlight, it just needs to be in the presence of a “reducing agent.” I also thought that the “ozone scrubbing” action was from the creation of a free radical halogen via UV or cosmic rays, which seems to be the reverse of the description here. If it is sunlight on snow, then we depend on the major portion of this “scrubbing” to occur at minimum snow and ice? Interesting article and research, maybe they should have spent less time trying to be global warming trendy and sticking with the duller aspects of the chemistry of their research.

  32. Alvin says:

    Clearly written by or reviewed by someone with a marketing background. Note the terms “hurried” and “rush” and “balance”. And, of course, the money shot:

    “In the Arctic, climate change is happening at an accelerated pace,” Pratt said. “A big question is what will happen to atmospheric composition in the Arctic as the temperatures rise and snow and ice decline even further?

  33. Tom in Florida says:

    From:
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/ChemistrySunlight/chemistry_sunlight3.php

    “Chemistry of Ozone Formation
    Ozone forms readily in the stratosphere as incoming ultraviolet radiation breaks molecular oxygen (two atoms) into atomic oxygen (a single atom). In that process, oxygen absorbs much of the ultraviolet radiation and prevents it from reaching the Earth’s surface where we live.
    In the language of a simplified chemical formula
    When an electrically excited free oxygen atom encounters an oxygen molecule, they may bond to form ozone.
    Destruction of ozone in the stratosphere takes place as quickly as formation of ozone, because the chemical is so reactive. Sunlight can readily split ozone into an oxygen molecule and an individual oxygen atom.
    When an electronically excited oxygen atom encounters an ozone molecule, they may combine to form two molecules of oxygen.
    The ozone formation-destruction process in the stratosphere occurs rapidly and constantly, maintaining an ozone layer. ”

    Based on the above, it should be obvious that there would be less stratospheric ozone at each pole by the end of each winter because of the long period of not receiving any sunlight.

  34. arthur4563 says:

    It would seem naive to assume that the Arctic will continue to warm at odds with the rest of the planet, and how can the Arctic be warming three times faster than a cooling planet?

  35. Richdo says:

    Paper is paywalled, too bad, it would be interesting to read what they actually did.
    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo1779.html#supplementary-information

    From the Supplementary Info, http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/extref/ngeo1779-s1.pdf, it appears that they performed no measurements of bromine with sea water/dark/sunlight to compare with the various snow/dark/sunlight data. So how can they draw any conclusions about the impact of “loss of sea ice”.

    I really hate this “science” by press release. It has more to do with marketing than science.

  36. Steve Keohane says:

    William McClenney says:April 25, 2013 at 12:10 am
    Yes, IIRC correctly, good things come from Uranus Corporation. If you are referencing ‘The Groove Tube’, you’re probably getting on as I am.

  37. tadchem says:

    The ozone layer has been alternately thinning AND swelling with the seasons as long as measurements have been made – with stochastic perturbations to the cycle. Only a myopic idiot would assume that the ozone layer had been ‘stable’ before we started looking at it or before we started using CFCs, and only an anthropocentric narcissist would assume that humans were completely responsible for the cycle – or even for the perturbations.
    With apologies to Dire Straits I sing: “I want my … I want my … I want my CFCs!”

  38. Jim Cripwell says:

    I like this study from the NSF, because they did hands-on empirical measurements and experiments to make the determination – Anthony

    What a sad reflection of the state of science brought on by the unscientific attitudes of the RS, the APS and the NSF on the subject of CAGW. Our host congratulates the authors for finally doing what the scientific method demands. I am sure Galileo and Newton are turning in their graves.

  39. Myron Mesecke says:

    phlogiston says:
    April 25, 2013 at 12:43 am

    What is happening to stratospheric ozone at present? I have noticed in our recent very brief sunny interlude in our late 2013 spring, that several people including myself went red / brown quite quickly after a few minutes or hours in the sunlight. A purely anecdotal observation but is there any thinning of ozone in the NH?

    Late 2013 Spring. That’s the key. You and those several other people have spent a longer time than usual out of the sun due to the longer than usual period of cold weather. So your skin has lost more of its previous tan. Your skin was paler and therefore more sensitive to sunlight. So you tan or burn more easily when you finally were able to get some sun.
    My daughter made a similar comment when track season started up. She couldn’t believe that she could burn so easily. I told her that she had been out of the sun all winter so that first amount of sun had more effect. She said, “That makes sense.”

  40. Jeff Alberts says:

    The new research also indicates that the surface snowpack above Arctic sea ice plays a previously unappreciated role in the bromine cycle and that loss of sea ice, which been occurring at an increasingly rapid pace in recent years, could have extremely disruptive effects in the balance of atmospheric chemistry in high latitudes.

    So they still think they entire planet was static until the last 50 years or so. Stupid.

  41. MinB says:

    “…the compound was most prevalent over snow-covered first-year sea ice and tundra”
    What does this statement mean? Most prevalent compared to what? To open water? To snowless tundra? Or to sea ice older than first year?

    If the latter, why would the age of the ice make a difference if it’s the snow on top that is interacting? Maybe the full paper clarifies this. It would seem to me that MORE sea ice melting would lead to MORE first-year sea ice the following freeze season and MORE cleansing.

  42. DesertYote says:

    Jens Bagh says:
    April 25, 2013 at 3:09 am

    What is the origin of the Bromine in the snow and how did it get there?
    ###
    Seawater.

  43. higley7 says:

    HOwever, as cold air sinks and flows Southward, it is unlikely that this bromine, so plentiful near the surface, makes it to the upper atmosphere and interacts with ozone up there. WHat occurs at the surface could more likely be unrelated to what occurs up there. SOrry, guys.

    The credibility of this work leaves the building as soon as they claim the increasing loss of Arctic ice. “occurring at an increasingly rapid pace in recent years” Just not happening.

  44. Doug Proctor says:

    Dave Wendt says: April 25, 2013 at 12:08 am

    Re your comment about Arctic ice rebound: not only does Arctic ice rebound, the long-term loss is not over the complete Arctic, but more focused in the eastern sub-ocean areas. I’ve wondered how much loss is reasonable as an excuse for European winters when the loss is neither “global” nor for all winter. Also:

    The loss of sea-ice and therefore snow cover occurs during only part of the lighted time in the Arctic. What we need is the portion of the sea-ice and snow loss during the lighted part when the sunlight-induced action occurs to see the proportional magnitude of the change. Regardless:

    Whatever the change, an increase in low-level ozone occurs that reduces air pollution in the lower levels. The proportional increase may be large if the bromine historically has been killing the ozone. So we might have a significant POSITIVE benefit to reduced Arctic ice.

    Who woulda thunk it.

  45. atheok says:

    “…Temperatures at the poles are too cold for the existence of much water vapor and in the Arctic this cleaning process appears instead to rely on reactions on frozen surfaces involving molecular bromine, a halogen gas derived from sea salt…”

    Which leaves me very puzzled about the Bromine phase transitions and chemical interaction levels in that temperature range. especially given an abundance level approximately 1-2 PPTv (‘Parts per Trillion by Volume’) for Bromine. Bromine would be a solid at the temperatures involved at their location. Bromine MonOxide (BrO) might be gaseous, though I couldn’t quickly locate that info on the web.

    Also given that BrO quite happily reacts with O2 and BrO, I’m not sure much of that minute 1-2 PPTv amount of BrO makes it up to the Ozone O3 level. I wonder if their experiment identified the specific chemical reactions, reaction initiation, energy sources, energy transfers and all. I did read in their blurb about the Arctic air freely circulating, so I have dim hopes that they’ve quantified for initiating and exiting components with all energy gains/losses. Surmising chemical activity within hidden ice crystal structures should be a neutral statement if the research is earnest..

    Add to that, that there is more than enough Chlorine to put Bromine as the minor player in the magic mystery ozone disappearance.

    Next on the puzzle me thoroughly list is why fixate on Bromine as the magic mystery player causing the ozone layer to take a flyer. Now if the research is strictly on BrO formation and the alarm words are PR ‘Jazz it up’ stuff then there is hope for good research. If this looking for the bit player to bolster alarmist ‘man is destroying our ozone levels’, then I wouldn’t expect much.

  46. Duster says:

    It seems unlikely that the effect is significant in Antarctica since the release of Bromine is correlated with first-year sea ice.

  47. otsar says:

    Why study only Bromine and not the other Halogens? Did they know they might discover someting very inconvenient?
    I have analysed many metal surfaces that have been exposed to the environment using AES and XPS. In a lage number of samples I have found 1 to 2% atomic concentration in the top 60 Angstrom.
    I hope they used Bromine free PMMA for the top window in their enclosure and other parts. Bromine is used as a fire retardant in many plastics. It is used from electronics packaging to clothing.

  48. otsar says:

    OOPS
    In the top 60 Angstrom I have found Cl.

  49. Duster:

    The article reports Kyle Custard saying:

    “Sea ice had been thought to be the source of the gaseous bromine,” she said. “We had an ‘of course!’ moment when we realized it was the snow on top of the sea ice. The snow is what is in direct contact with the atmosphere. Sea ice is critical to the process, though. Without it, the snow would fall into the ocean, and this chemistry wouldn’t take place. This is among the reasons why the loss of sea ice in the Arctic will directly impact atmospheric chemistry.”

    But your post at April 25, 2013 at 10:46 am says in total

    It seems unlikely that the effect is significant in Antarctica since the release of Bromine is correlated with first-year sea ice.

    Please explain the source of your “correlation” which is a direct contradiction of the statement I quote from Custard.

    Richard

  50. tz2026 says:

    No! It is because people several hundred miles away are spraying their aerosol cans! Releasing chemicals whose patents are about to expire into the atmosphere so must be banned.

  51. Brian D says:

    Well then, looks like we got an extra month of intense scrubbing across Canada and the Upper Midwest this year. All time snow records and snow depths at Duluth and surrounding areas.
    http://www.crh.noaa.gov/news/display_cmsstory.php?wfo=dlh&storyid=93989&source=0

  52. Billy Liar says:

    The new research also indicates that the surface snowpack above Arctic sea ice plays a previously unappreciated role in the bromine cycle …

    The role appears to have been appreciated since at least 1986:

    http://bro.aeronomie.be/index.html

    Reactive bromine in the atmosphere

    Bromine monoxide (BrO) is a key trace species in the ozone chemistry because of its large efficiency as catalyst of the ozone destruction. In the polar stratosphere, its role has been studied for a long time after the suggestion of the BrO-ClO cycle by McElroy et al. [1986]. Recent findings indicate that the halogen induced O3 loss chemistry where the ClO-BrO cycle is responsible for approximately 50% of the seasonal spring O3 destruction is now largely understood [Chipperfield and Pyle, 1998]. However the continued increase of bromine loading in the stratosphere while chlorine load has reached a maximum around 1997 is still a matter of concern as it could cause the abundance of equivalent chlorine to decline more slowly than predicted.

    It has long been assumed that reactive halogen species were confined to the stratosphere, playing a significant role only in polar region during spring. However, during the last few years, significant amounts of BrO were also observed in the troposphere first by ground-based instruments and more recently from space by the Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment (GOME) [Wagner and Platt, 1998; Richter et al., 1997]. The mechanisms responsible for the production of reactive bromine in both the boundary layer and in the free-troposphere are not well understood at the moment, although the role of sea-ice and sea-salt aerosol has been clearly identified. Nevertheless, at the levels (up to 100 ppt) produced in the polar boundary layer during the so-called “polar spring bromine explosion events”, it is clear that BrO has a strong impact on the tropospheric chemistry, being responsible for complete removal of the ozone within hours or days – the “Polar Tropospheric Ozone Hole”. Furthermore, the accumulating evidence for the presence of BrO (at levels around 1-3 ppt) in the free-troposphere of polar regions but also at mid-latitude, raises the question of the possible impact of reactive halogens on the tropospheric chemistry at the regional scale or even more widespread.

    Maps of BrO amounts here:

    http://www.temis.nl/protocols/BrOglobal.html

    All the information without the Purdue hyperbole.

  53. A.D. Everard says:

    “We are racing to understand exactly what happens in the Arctic and how it affects the planet because it is a delicate balance when it comes to an atmosphere that is hospitable to human life,”

    And: “In the Arctic, climate change is happening at an accelerated pace,” Pratt said.

    *

    Why is it always a “delicate balance”? The Earth is not “delicate”.

    And, did she actually check if any “climate change” was happening at “an accelerated pace” or just take someone’s word for it?

    Good on the team for going out there, but they have to pay attention and get those blinkers off while they are about it.

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