A study of photochemical and physical processes affecting carbonyl compounds in the Arctic atmospheric boundary layer

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Experiments were conducted during the ALERT 2000 field campaign aimed at understanding the role of air-snow interactions in carbonyl compound chemistry and the associated ozone depletion in the atmospheric boundary layer. Under sunlit conditions, we find that formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acetone exhibit a significant diel cycle with average ambient air concentrations of 166, 53 and 385ppt, respectively. A box model of Arctic surface layer chemistry was used to understand the diel behavior of carbonyl compound concentrations at Alert, Nunavut, Canada, with a focus on the chemical and physical processes that affect carbonyl compounds. Results of the study showed that the measured carbonyl compound concentrations can only be simulated when a radiation-dependent snowpack source term (possibly photochemistry) and a temperature-dependent sink (physical uptake on snow grains) of carbonyl compounds were added to the model. We are able to simulate the concentration and amplitude of the observed diel cycle, but not the phase of the cycle. These results help confirm the importance of snowpack chemistry and physical processes with respect to carbonyl compound concentrations in the Arctic surface boundary layer, and reveal weakness in the details of our understanding. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Atmospheric Environment