Snow Photochemistry Research
Recent studies have indicated that trace compounds present in snow are released to the atmosphere, probably by photochemical reactions. We have built a spectrometer capbable of measuring UV light fluxes in the snow to quantify the intensity and spectrum of light available to drive photochemical reactions. We deployed this instrument at the Polar Sunrise Experiement 2000 (PSE2000) at Alert Base, Canada (82.5 degrees N). A number of publications have come from this work.
We subsequently collaborated with Dr. Matthew Sturm and collaborators on the SnowSTAR 2002 traverses to measure the light transmission in snow over the broad geographic region of Northwest Alaska. Our findings showed a large variation in light transmsission (approximately a factor of 5) across this region.
In 2003 and 2004, we extended this work to also include snow chemical composition and mercury in snow. This work is aimed at understanding the relationship between halogens, especially bromine, and ozone depletion and mercury deposition. Our field projects in 2003 and 2004 are described in our field work section of the website.
In the laboratory, we have performed experiments to test the validity of simple radiative transfer models for predicting photochemistry in snowpacks. This result is described in the snow optics page.