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Photochemical decomposition of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and formaldehyde (HCHO) in artificial snow

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Laboratory-made snow doped with either hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) or formaldehyde (HCHO) was exposed to radiation in the ultraviolet and visible range, resulting in a decomposition of both compounds. These experiments demonstrate that, besides the photolysis of nitrate, further photochemical reactions of atmospheric relevant compounds can take place in snow. Under similar conditions the decomposition of H2O2 is more efficient than that of HCHO. Since the decompositions in the experiments follow first-order reaction kinetics, we suggest that the same products as in photolysis reactions in the liquid phase are produced. If similar reactions also take place in natural snow covers, these reactions would have several important consequences. The reactions could represent pathways for the generation of highly reactive radicals in the condensed phase, enhancing the photochemical activity of surface snow and modifying the oxidation capacity of the atmospheric boundary layer. The photolysis could also constitute an additional sink for H2O2 and HCHO in surface snow, which should be taken into account for the reconstruction of atmospheric concentrations of both compounds from concentration profiles in surface snow and ice cores.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2004

More about this publication?
  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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