The team of atmospheric chemists carried out an 18-month study of the make-up of the lowest part of the earth's atmosphere on the Brunt Ice Shelf, about 20 km from the Weddell Sea. They found high concentrations of halogens - bromine and iodine oxides – which persist throughout the period when there is sunlight in Antarctica (August through May). A big surprise to the science team was the large quantities of iodine oxide, since this chemical has not been detected in the Arctic.
The source of the halogens is natural – sea-salt in the case of bromine, and in the case of iodine, almost certainly bright orange algae that coat the underside of the sea ice around the continent.
These halogens cause a substantial depletion in ozone above the ice surface. This affects the so-called oxidising capacity of the atmosphere - its ability to "clean itself" by removing certain - often man-made - chemical compounds. The iodine oxides also form tiny particles (a few nanometres in size), which can grow to form ice clouds, with a consequent impact on the local climate.
Scientists now plan to carry out further research to assess what impact this may be having on the local environment. Very recent satellite observations by one of the team, Dr Alfonso Saiz-Lopez, have confirmed that iodine oxides are widespread throughout coastal Antarctica.
John Plane, professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of Leeds, says: "Halogens in the lowest part of the atmosphere have important impacts on ozone depletion, the ability of the atmosphere to remove potentially harmful compounds, and aerosol formation. All these atmospheric phenomena are linked to climate change. We still have to work out what the ramifications of this discovery are. These exciting results also show how important it is to keep exploring the atmosphere - there seems to be plenty more to find out."
Using high-tech measuring equipment, a beam of light was projected across the ice shelf and the spectrum of the reflected light analysed and chemical levels measured. The work was carried out in a new atmospheric observatory at Halley Station, operated by the British Antarctic Survey, and was supported by funding from the U.K.’s Natural Environment Research Council.
Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.
For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...
What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.
To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...
The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....
A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...
Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision
Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...
21.07.2017 | Event News
19.07.2017 | Event News
12.07.2017 | Event News
24.07.2017 | Health and Medicine
24.07.2017 | Automotive Engineering
21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences