Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Waiting for blowing snow

The Cake Eater Lab is serving as the tundra site for BROMEX, so we've had many visitors.  Here's a post from graduate student Ross Lieb-Lappen (Dartmouth College) about his research!

The tallest tower of tres torres is used to collect blowing snow and operates on a door hinge to reach a height of 18 feet.  Although it looks like a kid's erector set, the flexibility of holes throughout the cross pieces allows for easy adjustments and adding attachments.  When the wind blows (at least 15 mph), it picks up salty snow from the sea ice surface.  The air filter bags (the white bags that look like butterfly nets) collect this snow for us to analyze with ion chromotography.  We will also be looking at oxygen/hydrogen isotope ratios which can help identify from where the moisture orientated.  I try to switch the bags out after blowing snow or precipitation events.  In combination with the blowing snow, I also have been sampling directly from the snowpack both on the tundra and over the sea ice.  By taking samples at different heights, we can build concentration profiles.  One of our goals is to examine the snow crystals using synchrotron x-ray microfluorescence to identify where the bromide ions are located within the snow.  If they are concentrated at the grain boundary, this indicates that they are readily available for reactive chemistry.  Unfortunately, the weather in Barrow for the last week has been "pleasant" (i.e. hardly any wind).  I might be the only one wishing for the nastiest, windiest, snowiest conditions.  Alas, we wait....

Thank you to Ross Lieb-Lappen for this great post!

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