Potential genesis and implications of calcium nitrate in Antarctic snow release_jua2555qs5bkrpqg6nsa76tmcy

by Mahalinganathan Kanthanathan, M. Thamban

Published in The Cryosphere Discussions by Copernicus GmbH.

2015   p6125-6151


Among the large variety of particulates in the atmosphere, calcic mineral dust particles have highly reactive surfaces that undergo heterogeneous reactions with nitrogen oxides contiguously. The association between Ca<sup>2+</sup>, an important proxy indicator of mineral dust and NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup>, a dominant anion in the Antarctic snow pack was analysed. A total of 41 snow cores (~ 1 m each) that represent snow deposited during 2008–2009 were studied along coastal–inland transects from two different regions – the Princess Elizabeth Land (PEL) and central Dronning Maud Land (cDML) in East Antarctica. Correlation statistics showed a strong association (at 99 % significance level) between NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup> and Ca<sup>2+</sup> at the near-coastal sections of both PEL (<i>r</i> = 0.72) and cDML (<i>r</i> = 0.76) transects. Similarly, a strong association between these ions was also observed in snow deposits at the inland sections of PEL (<i>r</i> = 0.8) and cDML (<i>r</i> = 0.85). Such systematic associations between Ca<sup>2+</sup> and NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup> is attributed to the interaction between calcic mineral dust and nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere, leading to the possible formation of calcium nitrate (Ca(NO<sub>3</sub>)<sub>2</sub>). Forward and back trajectory analyses using HYSPLIT model v. 4 revealed that Southern South America (SSA) was an important dust emitting source to the study region, aided by the westerlies. Particle size distribution showed that over 90 % of the dust was in the range < 4 μm, indicating that these dust particles reached the Antarctic region via long range transport from the SSA region. We propose that the association between Ca<sup>2+</sup> and NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup> occurs during the long range transport due to the formation of Ca(NO<sub>3</sub>)<sub>2</sub>. The Ca(NO<sub>3</sub>)<sub>2</sub> thus formed in the atmosphere undergo deposition over Antarctica under the influence of anticyclonic polar easterlies. However, influence of local dust sources from the nunataks in cDML evidently mask such association in the mountainous region. The study indicates that the input of dust-bound NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup> may contribute a significant fraction of the total NO<sub>3</sub><sup>–</sup> deposited in Antarctic snow.
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