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Prize allows York scientist to go to extremes

For the next two years, scientist Dr Lucy Carpenter will be taking her study of atmospheric chemistry to climatic extremes, thanks to a Philip Leverhulme Prize

The senior lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at the University of York is already involved in a unique monitoring station in the Tropics, and the £70,000 Leverhulme Prize will allow her to lead a new project in the Arctic.

The International Polar Year project will examine the atmospheric effect of frost-flowers, the delicate ice crystals that form on sea ice and emit halogens, bromine and iodine, into the atmosphere.

Scientists from the UK, Germany and Canada will test the theory that the combination of high surface area and high salinity in the frost flowers leads to the release of the halogens, which then interact resulting in the depletion of ozone and mercury in the troposphere.

Dr Carpenter said the project would be based at a Canadian research station in Hudson Bay for two months in spring 2008 with the team working in an air-conditioned portable laboratory.

“It’s a big field experiment which is going to be logistically very difficult to do. We have to go out there in February and March because of the combination of cold temperatures and sunlight, so I shall spend some of the Prize on teaching relief,” she said.

“We are hoping for temperatures of minus 20 to 30 degrees Celsius -- there are huge floats of frost flowers in those conditions. Our overall aim is to develop an improved understanding of Arctic chemistry and emissions, and their effect and feedbacks on atmospheric chemistry and climate””.

The Arctic project will run in parallel with the Dr Carpenter’s work at the atmospheric monitoring station established in September on the Cape Verde Islands in the Atlantic. With German scientists at a nearby oceanography station, she is studying how atmospheric chemistry affects the ocean and vice-versa.

David Garner | alfa
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