Articles | Volume 15, issue 4
Research article
26 Feb 2015
Research article |  | 26 Feb 2015

Dependence of the vertical distribution of bromine monoxide in the lower troposphere on meteorological factors such as wind speed and stability

P. K. Peterson, W. R. Simpson, K. A. Pratt, P. B. Shepson, U. Frieß, J. Zielcke, U. Platt, S. J. Walsh, and S. V. Nghiem

Abstract. Multiple axis differential absorption spectroscopy (MAX-DOAS) measurements of bromine monoxide (BrO) probed the vertical structure of halogen activation events during March–May 2012 at Barrow, Alaska. An analysis of the BrO averaging kernels and degrees of freedom obtained by optimal-estimation-based inversions from raw MAX-DOAS measurements reveals the information is best represented by reducing the retrieved BrO profile to two quantities: the integrated column from the surface through 200 m (VCD200 m), and the lower tropospheric vertical column density (LT-VCD), which represents the integrated column of BrO from the surface through 2 km. The percentage of lower tropospheric BrO in the lowest 200 m was found to be highly variable ranging from shallow layer events, where BrO is present primarily in the lowest 200 m, to distributed column events where BrO is observed at higher altitudes. The highest observed LT-VCD events occurred when BrO was distributed throughout the lower troposphere, rather than concentrated near the surface. Atmospheric stability in the lowest 200 m influenced the percentage of LT-VCD that is in the lowest 200 m, with inverted temperature structures having a first-to-third quartile range (Q1–Q3) of VCD200 m/LT-VCD from 15–39%, while near-neutral-temperature structures had a Q1–Q3 range of 7–13%. Data from this campaign show no clear influence of wind speed on either lower tropospheric bromine activation (LT-VCD) or the vertical distribution of BrO, while examination of seasonal trends and the temperature dependence of the vertical distribution supported the conclusion that the atmospheric stability affects the vertical distribution of BrO.

Short summary
We developed methods to measure the vertical distribution of bromine monoxide, a gas that oxidizes pollutants, above sea ice based upon MAX-DOAS observations from Barrow, Alaska, and find that atmospheric stability exerts a strong control on BrO's vertical distribution. Specifically, more stable (temperature inversion) situations result in BrO being closer to the ground while more neutral (not inverted) atmospheres allow BrO to ascend further aloft and grow to larger column abundance.
Final-revised paper