Photoformation of hydroxyl radical on snow grains at Summit, Greenland

We measured the photoformation of hydroxyl radical (OH) on snow grains at Summit, Greenland during the spring and summer. Midday rates of OH formation in the snow phase in the summer range from 130 to , expressed relative to the liquid equivalent volume of snow. Calculated formation rates of snow-grain OH based on the photolysis of hydrogen peroxide and nitrate agree well with our measured rates during summer, indicating that there are probably not other major sources of OH under these conditions. Throughout both the spring and summer, HOOH is by far the dominant source of snow-grain OH; on average, HOOH produces approximately 100 times more OH than does . Rates of OH photoformation have a strong seasonal dependence and increase by approximately a factor of 10 between early spring and summer at midday. The rate of OH photoformation on snow grains decreases rapidly with depth in the snowpack, with approximately 90% of photoformation occurring within the top 10 cm, although OH formation occurs to depths below 20 cm. The formation of OH on snow grains likely initiates a suite of reactions in the snowpack, including the transformation of organic carbon (OC) and oxidation of halides. The reaction of OH with OC probably forms a number of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are potentially emitted into the atmospheric boundary layer. Indeed, our measured rates of OH photoformation on snow grains are large enough that they could account for previously reported fluxes of VOCs from the snowpack at Summit, although the relative importance of thermal desorption and photochemical production for most of these VOCs still needs to be determined.


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Authors: Anastasio, Cort, Galbavy, Edward S., Hutterli, Manuel, Burkhart, John F., Friel, Donna K.

1 January, 2007
Atmospheric Environment / 41
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