Observations of the unique chemical environment over snow and ice in recent decades, particularly in the polar regions. have stimulated increasing interest in the boundary layer processes that mediate exchanges between the ice/snow interface and the atmosphere. This paper provides a review of the underlying concepts and examples from recent field studies in polar boundary layer meteorology, which will generally apply to atmospheric flow over snow and ice surfaces. It forms a companion paper to the chemistry review papers in this special issue of ACP that focus on processes linking halogens to the depletion of boundary layer ozone in coastal environments, mercury transport and deposition, snow photochemistry, and related snow physics. In this context, observational approaches, stable boundary layer behavior, the effects of a weak or absent diurnal cycle, and transport and mixing over the heterogeneous surfaces characteristic of coastal ocean environments are of particular relevance.