The connection between changes in the Arctic Ocean's ice cover and bromine chemical processes is determined by the interaction between the salt in sea ice, frigid temperatures and sunlight.
When these mix, the salty ice releases bromine into the air and starts a cascade of chemical reactions called a "bromine explosion." These reactions rapidly create more molecules of bromine monoxide in the atmosphere. Bromine then reacts with a gaseous form of mercury, turning it into a pollutant that falls to Earth's surface.Bromine also can remove ozone from the lowest layer of the atmosphere, the troposphere.
Despite ozone's beneficial role blocking harmful radiation in the stratosphere, ozone is a pollutant in the ground-level troposphere.
A team from the United States, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom, led by Son Nghiem of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., produced the study, which has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres. The team combined data from six NASA, European Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency satellites, field observations and a model of how air moves in the atmosphere to link Arctic sea ice changes to bromine explosions over the Beaufort Sea, extending to the Amundsen Gulf in the Canadian Arctic.
"Shrinking summer sea ice has drawn much attention to exploiting Arctic resources and improving maritime trading routes," Nghiem said. "But the change in sea ice composition also has impacts on the environment. Changing conditions in the Arctic might increase bromine explosions in the future."
The study was undertaken to better understand the fundamental nature of bromine explosions, which first were observed in the Canadian Arctic more than two decades ago. The team of scientists wanted to find if the explosions occur in the troposphere or higher in the stratosphere.Nghiem's team used the topography of mountain ranges in Alaska and Canada as a "ruler" to measure the altitude at which the explosions took place. In the spring of 2008, satellites detected increased concentrations of bromine, which were associated with a decrease of gaseous mercury and ozone. After the researchers verified the satellite observations with field measurements, they used an atmospheric model to study how the wind transported the bromine plumes across the
The model, together with satellite observations, showed the Alaskan Brooks Range and the Canadian Richardson and Mackenzie mountains stopped bromine from moving into Alaska's interior. Since most of these mountains are lower than 6,560 feet (2,000 meters), the researchers determined the bromine explosion was confined to the lower troposphere.
"If the bromine explosion had been in the stratosphere, 5 miles [8 kilometers] or higher above the ground, the mountains would not have been able to stop it and the bromine would have been transported inland," Nghiem said.
After the researchers found that bromine explosions occur in the lowest level of the atmosphere, they could relate their origin to sources on the surface. Their model, tracing air rising from the salty ice, tied the bromine releases to recent changes in Arctic sea ice that have led to a much saltier sea ice surface.
In March 2008, the extent of year-round perennial sea ice eclipsed the 50-year record low set in March 2007, shrinking by 386,100 square miles (one million square kilometers) -- an area the size of Texas and Arizona combined. Seasonal ice, which forms over the winter when seawater freezes, now occupies the space of the lost perennial ice. This younger ice is much saltier than its older counterpart because it has not had time to undergo processes that drain its sea salts. It also contains more frost flowers -- clumps of ice crystals up to four times saltier than ocean waters -- providing more salt sources to fuel bromine releases.
Nghiem said if sea ice continues to be dominated by younger saltier ice, and Arctic extreme cold spells occur more often, bromine explosions are likely to increase in the future.
Nghiem is leading an Arctic field campaign this month that will provide new insights into bromine explosions and their impacts. NASA's Bromine, Ozone, and Mercury Experiment (BROMEX) involves international contributions by more than 20 organizations. The new studies will complement those of a previously conducted NASA field campaign, Arctic Research of the Composition of the Troposphere from Aircraft and Satellites (ARCTAS), which is providing scientists with valuable data for studies of bromine.Notes for Journalists
Or, you may order a copy of the final paper by emailing your request to Kate Ramsayer at email@example.com. Please provide your name, the name of your publication, and your phone number.
Neither the paper nor this press release are under embargo.Title:
Ignatius G. Rigor: Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA;
Andreas Richter: Institute of Environmental Physics, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany;
John P. Burrows: Institute of Environmental Physics, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany, and Biogeochemistry Programme, NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingtonford, Oxfordshire, UK;
Paul B. Shepson: Purdue Climate Change Research Center, Departments of Chemistry and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Lafayette, Indiana, USA;
Jan Bottenheim: Science and Technology Branch, Environment Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada;
David G. Barber: Center for Earth Observation Science, Faculty of Environment, Earth and Resources, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada;
Alexandra Steffen: Science and Technology Branch, Environment Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada;
Jeff Latonas: Center for Earth Observation Science, Faculty of Environment, Earth and Resources, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada;
Feiyue Wang: Center for Earth Observation Science, Faculty of Environment, Earth and Resources, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and Department of Chemistry, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada;
Gary Stern: Center for Earth Observation Science, Faculty of Environment, Earth and Resources, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and Freshwater Institute, Department of Fishery and Oceans, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada;
Pablo Clemente-Colón: National Ice Center, Washington, DC, USA;
Seelye Martin: School of Oceanography, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA;
Dorothy K. Hall: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA;
Lars Kaleschke: Institute of Oceanography, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany;
Philip Tackett: Purdue Climate Change Research Center, Departments of Chemistry and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Lafayette, Indiana, USA;
Gregory Neumann: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA;
Matthew G. Asplin: Center for Earth Observation Science, Faculty of Environment, Earth and Resources, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.Contact information for the authors:
Further reports about: > Arctic Ocean > Arctic sea ice > Atmospheric Sciences > Canadian Light Source > Climate change > Earth's magnetic field > Environment > Manitoba > NASA > Oceanography > Ressource > chemical process > chemical reaction > environmental risk > ice cover > ice crystal > information technology > mountain range > satellite observations > sea ice > sea snails
Geophysicists and atmospheric scientists partner to track typhoons' seismic footprints
16.02.2018 | Princeton University
NASA finds strongest storms in weakening Tropical Cyclone Sanba
15.02.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).
Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
16.02.2018 | Information Technology
16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy