Laboratory studies of the nitric acid trihydrate: Implications for the south polar stratosphere



Vapor pressures of HNO3 and H2O have been measured over the trihydrate crystal, formed by vapor deposit on a glass surface. In the temperature range 190 K to 205 K the two phase-equilibrium trihydrate/vapor was studied by adding and removing H2O. Coexistence equilibria vapor pressures of trihydrate/solid solutions of HNO3 in ice (‘ice’) and of mono-/trihydrate were also measured. Results show that for typical mixing ratios of H2O and HNO3 found in the lower stratosphere (3 ppm H2O, 5 ppb HNO3) the trihydrate would start to form at temperatures about 7 K higher than the ice point. The pressure of atmospheric HNO3 would rapidly decrease as the atmosphere cools without large changes in partial pressures of H2O. These laboratory results provide information on the formation of polar stratospheric clouds containing H2O and HNO3.