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Original Research Papers

Enhancement of snowpack inorganic nitrogen by aerosol debris

Authors:

J . L. Wadham ,

Bristol Glaciology Centre, School of Geographical Sciences, GB
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K. R. Hallam,

University of Bristol, Interface Analysis Centre, GB
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J. Hawkins,

University of Bristol, Interface Analysis Centre, GB
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A. O’connor

Bristol Glaciology Centre, School of Geographical Sciences, GB
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Abstract

The NO3 -, Cl- and Ca2 + loading and provenance of the lower wetted-refrozen part of an Arctic snowpack sampled in spring 1999 is analysed. This wetted-refrozen layer (WRL) formed during rain-on-snow events in early winter 1998, being subsequently buried by later snowfall. It is a unique environment within which to study NO3 - provenance, since it is effectively sealed off from the atmosphere, and solute is mostly stored in superimposed ice, ice lenses and wetted-refrozen snow. Post-depositional losses/gains of NO3 - by volatilization/dry deposition are, therefore, minimized. Partitioning of WRL Ca2+ and NO3 - loads into their respective sea salt/atmospheric components and an excess component indicates significant contributions of excess Ca2+ (∼80% of total) and NO3 - (11–64% of total). These excess loads are thought to arise from a combination of preferential elution during lateral meltwater drainage and the release of Ca+ and N (as NO3 - and NH4 +) from snowpack debris during wetting. Dissolution experiments on local snowpack debris provide envelopes of Ca2+ and NO3 - release that are in line with the excess loads of these species at most sampling sites and are supportive of the latter hypothesis. This is the first study to date to indicate debris as a possible source of non-atmospheric nitrogen to snow. It has implications for nitrogen cycling in other catchments where snow contains significant aerosol sourced from N-containing lithologies and organic matter

How to Cite: Wadham, J.L., Hallam, K.R., Hawkins, J. and O’connor, A., 2006. Enhancement of snowpack inorganic nitrogen by aerosol debris. Tellus B: Chemical and Physical Meteorology, 58(3), pp.229–241. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0889.2006.00180.x
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  Published on 01 Jan 2006
 Accepted on 15 Nov 2005            Submitted on 17 Aug 2004

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