The volatilisation of iodine from the ocean and release to the atmosphere in the ice-covered polar regions has been studied. Laboratory experiments involving sea ice- and ice associated- diatoms have shown how the extreme conditions experienced in sea ice brine channels may lead to an increase in production of organic forms of iodine. Trends were observed in production by different classes of enzymes, active in the oxidative metabolism of the cell. An enhancement in trace gas concentrations due to the concentration effect of solvent volume reduction has also been demonstrated. Field campaigns have been undertaken in both the Arctic and Antarctic. Ship-based measurements in the Weddell Sea have implicated I2 as a key species in the mechanism of enhancement of atmospheric iodine in this region. Organic and inorganic forms of iodine were measured in seawater, sea ice and the atmosphere. On the Brunt ice shelf, enhanced concentrations of CH3I and C2H5I were measured in the snow firn air, with a diurnal profile, suggesting the snow may be a source of these compounds. These measurements have implications for atmospheric mixing ratios of IO, measured from the ship and validated by satellite data, and new particle formation. This is the first combined in situ study in Antarctica of organic and inorganic iodine compounds in sea water, ice and air. On the Western Antarctic Peninsula, IO was detected in the atmosphere, and seawater measurements of iodocarbons have demonstrated how organic compounds of iodine are enhanced during the phytoplankton bloom; these measurements are also a first. Iodine emissions in the sea ice zone were also quantified in two campaigns in the Arctic environment. High concentrations of halocarbons were measured in the brine of sea ice, with respect to the water below, in the Arctic Ocean. High atmospheric halocarbon mixing ratios and flux calculations have demonstrated the effect on the atmosphere above. In the Canadian sub-Arctic, where the ice had quite different physical properties, halocarbon concentrations were the highest ever recorded for some compounds, due to extreme concentration in very cold ice. The enhancement of organic forms of iodine in sea ice has therefore been demonstrated. I2 has been implicated as a key species in iodine emissions. Therefore, understanding has been furthered on the chemistry of iodine in sea ice and polar atmosphere.
Authors: Atkinson, Helen M.
1 January, 2011