Using gas-phase nitric acid as an indicator of PSC composition

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Abstract

[1] The composition of polar stratospheric cloud particles is investigated using data from several remote sensing instruments: gas-phase HNO3 measured by the Airborne Submillimeter Radiometer (ASUR), temperature measured by the Airborne Raman Ozone, Temperature and Aerosol Lidar (AROTEL), and aerosol backscatter wavelength dependence and depolarization measured by the UV Differential Absorption Lidar (DIAL). All three instruments have been operated onboard the NASA DC-8 during the SOLVE winter 1999/2000. A simple thermodynamical model is used to calculate the gas-phase amount of HNO3 in the presence of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) along the flight track of the DC-8 for one flight into the polar vortex on 7 December 1999. Three types of PSCs are considered in the model: nitric acid trihydrate (NAT), nitric acid dihydrate (NAD), and supercooled ternary solutions (STS). The comparison of the modeled and measured gas-phase HNO3 in the presence of PSCs shows a very good agreement if a NAT composition of the particles is assumed. However, sensitivity studies show that while the PSCs observed on this flight are not in agreement with a STS composition, the model is very sensitive to temperature, and a NAD composition of the PSC cannot be ruled out.

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