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Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres



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Reactive bromine radicals (bromine atoms, Br, and bromine monoxide, BrO) deplete ozone and alter tropospheric oxidation chemistry during the Arctic springtime (February–June). As spring transitions to summer (May–June) and snow begins to melt, reactive bromine events cease and BrO becomes low in summer. In this study, we explore the relationship between the end of the reactive bromine season and snowmelt timing. BrO was measured by Multi-AXis Differential Optical Absorption Spectrometer at Utqiaġvik (Barrow), AK, from 2012 to 2016 and on drifting buoys deployed in Arctic sea ice from 2011 to 2016, a total of 13 site and year combinations. The BrO seasonal end date (SED) was objectively determined and was compared to surface-air-temperature-derived melt onset date (MOD). The SED was highly correlated with the MOD (N = 13, R2 = 0.983, RMS = 1.9 days), and BrO is only observed at subfreezing temperatures. In subsets of these sites and years where ancillary data were available, we observed that snowpack depth reduced and rain precipitation occurred within a few days of the SED. These data are consistent with snowpack melting hindering BrO recycling, which is necessary to maintain enhanced BrO concentrations. With a projected warmer Arctic, a shift to earlier snowmelt seasons could alter the timing and role of halogen chemical reactions in the Arctic with impacts on ozone depletion and mercury deposition.

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