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Keywords:

  • Alaska;
  • Arctic;
  • Barrow;
  • Chemistry;
  • Snow

[1] The chemical composition of the seasonal snowpack was determined close to Barrow, an Arctic coastal location in northern Alaska. One hundred and twelve samples of different snow types including fresh snow, surface hoar, diamond dust, blowing snow, rounded snow grains, and depth hoar were collected and analyzed for major sea salt components, bromide, and nitrate. Sodium, chloride, sulfate, and potassium are mainly introduced into the snowpack by the deposition of sea salt, while magnesium and calcium result from a combination of sea salt and dust. Sulfate was strongly depleted in most samples compared to other sea salt components. This is attributed to the precipitation of mirabilite in newly formed sea ice and frost flowers that leads to an efficient fractionation of sulfate. Uptake of volatile but soluble species from the gas phase also contributed to the observed chloride, sulfate, and nitrate in the snow. However, for chloride and sulfate the input from the marine sources was overwhelming and the uptake from the gas phase was only visible in the samples with low concentrations like fresh snow, diamond dust, and surface hoar. Nitrate concentrations in the snowpack were less variable and for aged snow nitrate was related to the specific surface area of the snow indicating the adsorption of nitric acid can be an important nitrate source in the aged snow. Bromide was also introduced into the snowpack from marine sources, but due to its high reactivity it was partly transferred back to the atmosphere in the form of reactive species. The result of these processes was evident in bromide concentrations, which were both enriched and depleted at the snowpack surface while deeper layers were mostly depleted. Blowing snow also exhibited a depleted bromide composition. For all compounds except nitrate, many depth hoar samples exhibited the greatest concentrations, probably as a result of higher input earlier in the season as well as increases due to the sublimation of water during the metamorphism of the snow.