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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 16 Oct 2018

Submitted as: research article | 16 Oct 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript was accepted for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Intrusion, retention, and snowpack chemical effects from exhaust emissions at Concordia Station, Antarctica

Detlev Helmig1, Daniel Liptzin1, Jacques Hueber1, and Joel Savarino2 Detlev Helmig et al.
  • 1Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80305, USA
  • 2Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, IRD, Grenoble INP, IGE, 38000 Grenoble, France

Abstract. Continuous measurements of reactive gases in the snowpack and above the snowpack surface were conducted at Concordia Station (Dome C), Antarctica, from December 2012–January 2014. Measured species included ozone, nitrogen oxides, gaseous elemental mercury, and formaldehyde, for study of photochemical reactions, surface exchange, and the seasonal cycles and atmospheric chemistry of these gases. The experiment was installed ~ 1 km from the main station infrastructure inside the station clean air sector and within the station electrical power grid boundary. Air was sampled continuously from three inlets on a 10 m meteorological tower, as well as from two above and four below the surface sampling inlets from within the snowpack. Despite being in the clean air sector, over the course of the 1.2-year study, we observed on the order of 15 occasions when exhaust plumes from the camp, most notably from the power generation system, were transported to the study site. Highly elevated levels of nitrogen oxides (up to 1000 x background) and lowered ozone (down to ~ 50 %), most likely from titration with nitric oxide, were measured in the exhaust plumes. Within 5–15 minutes from observing elevated pollutant levels above the snow, rapidly increasing and long-lasting concentration enhancements were measured in snowpack air. While pollution events typically lasted only a few minutes to an hour above the snow surface, elevated nitrogen oxides levels were observed in the snowpack lasting from a few days to one week. These observations add important new insight to the discussion of if and how snow-photochemical experiments within reach of the power grid of polar research sites are possibly compromised by the snowpack being chemically influenced (contaminated) by gaseous and particulate emissions from the research camp activities. This question is critical for evaluating if snowpack trace chemical measurements from within the camp boundaries are representative for the vast polar ice sheets.

Detlev Helmig et al.
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Detlev Helmig et al.
Detlev Helmig et al.
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Short summary
We present 15 months of trace gas observations from air withdrawn within the snowpack and from above the snow at Concordia Station in Antarctica. The data show occasional positive spikes, indicative of pollution from the station generator. The pollution signal can be seen in snowpack air shortly after it is observed above the snow surface, and lasting for up to several days, much longer than above the surface.
We present 15 months of trace gas observations from air withdrawn within the snowpack and from...