Modified HNO3 seasonality in volcanic layers of a polar ice core: Snow-pack effect or photochemical perturbation?

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Using the chemical composition of snow and ice of a central Greenland ice core, we have investigated changes in atmospheric HNO3 chemistry following the large volcanic eruptions of Laki (1783), Tambora (1815) and Katmai (1912). The concentration of several cations and anions, including SO42- and NO3-, were measured using ion chromatography. We found that following those eruptions, the ratio of the concentration of NO3- deposited during winter to that deposited during summer was significantly higher than during nonvolcanic periods. Although we cannot rule out that this pattern originates from snow pack effects, we propose that increased concentrations of volcanic H2SO4 particles in the stratosphere may have favored condensation and removal of HNO3 from the stratosphere during Arctic winter. In addition, this pattern might have been enhanced by slower formation of HNO3 during summer, caused by direct consumption of OH through oxidation of volcanic SO2. © 1993 Kluwer Academic Publishers.

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Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry