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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2017-816
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
10 Oct 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).
Nucleation of nitric acid hydrates in Polar Stratospheric Clouds by meteoric material
Alexander D. James1, James S. A. Brooke1, Thomas P. Mangan1, Thomas F. Whale2, John M. C. Plane1, and Benjamin J. Murray2 1School of Chemistry, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
2School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
Abstract. Heterogeneous nucleation of crystalline nitric acid hydrates in Polar Stratospheric Clouds (PSCs) enhances ozone depletion. However, the identity and mode of action of the particles responsible for nucleation remains unknown. It has been suggested that meteoric material may trigger nucleation of nitric acid trihydrate (NAT), but this has never been directly demonstrated in the laboratory. Meteoric material is present in two forms in the stratosphere, smoke which results from the ablation and re-condensation of vapours, and fragments which result from the disruption of meteoroids entering the atmosphere. Here we show that analogues of both materials have a capacity to nucleate nitric acid hydrates. In combination with estimates from a global model of the amount of meteoric smoke and fragments in the polar stratosphere we show that meteoric material probably accounts for NAT observations in early season polar stratospheric clouds in the absence of water ice.

Citation: James, A. D., Brooke, J. S. A., Mangan, T. P., Whale, T. F., Plane, J. M. C., and Murray, B. J.: Nucleation of nitric acid hydrates in Polar Stratospheric Clouds by meteoric material, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2017-816, in review, 2017.
Alexander D. James et al.
Alexander D. James et al.
Alexander D. James et al.

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Short summary
Crystal nucleation in polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) has a direct impact on stratospheric chemistry and ozone. However, the mechanism of nucleation has been unclear for decades, limiting prediction of the response of ozone to atmospheric changes. We experimentally demonstrate that meteoric material can trigger nucleation heterogeneously and this can produce observed crystal concentrations in PSCs. This discovery paves the way to robust modelling of past and future trends in PSCs and ozone.
Crystal nucleation in polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) has a direct impact on stratospheric...
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