Comparison of model and ground observations finds snowpack and blowing snow aerosols both contribute to Arctic tropospheric reactive bromine

William F. Swanson, Chris D. Holmes, William R. Simpson, Kaitlyn Confer, Louis Marelle, Jennie L. Thomas, Lyatt Jaeglé, Becky Alexander, Shuting Zhai, Qianjie Chen, Xuan Wang, Tomás Sherwen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Reactive halogens play a prominent role in the atmospheric chemistry of the Arctic during springtime. Field measurements and modeling studies suggest that halogens are emitted into the atmosphere from snowpack and reactions on wind-blown snow-sourced aerosols. The relative importance of snowpack and blowing snow sources is still debated, both at local scales and regionally throughout the Arctic. To understand the implications of these halogen sources on a pan-Arctic scale, we simulate Arctic reactive bromine chemistry in the atmospheric chemical transport model GEOS-Chem. Two mechanisms are included: (1) a blowing snow sea salt aerosol formation mechanism and (2) a snowpack mechanism assuming uniform molecular bromine production from all snow surfaces. We compare simulations including neither mechanism, each mechanism individually, and both mechanisms to examine conditions where one process may dominate or the mechanisms may interact. We compare the models using these mechanisms to observations of bromine monoxide (BrO) derived from multiple-axis differential optical absorption spectroscopy (MAX-DOAS) instruments on O-Buoy platforms on the sea ice and at a coastal site in Utqiagvik, Alaska, during spring 2015. Model estimations of hourly and monthly average BrO are improved by assuming a constant yield of 0.1 % molecular bromine from all snowpack surfaces on ozone deposition. The blowing snow aerosol mechanism increases modeled BrO by providing more bromide-rich aerosol surface area for reactive bromine recycling. The snowpack mechanism led to increased model BrO across the Arctic Ocean with maximum production in coastal regions, whereas the blowing snow aerosol mechanism increases BrO in specific areas due to high surface wind speeds. Our uniform snowpack source has a greater impact on BrO mixing ratios than the blowing snow source. Model results best replicate several features of BrO observations during spring 2015 when using both mechanisms in conjunction, adding evidence that these mechanisms are both active during the Arctic spring. Extending our transport model throughout the entire year leads to predictions of enhanced fall BrO that are not supported by observations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14467-14488
Number of pages22
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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