An exemplary case of a bromine explosion event linked to cyclone development in the Arctic
Abstract. Intense, cyclone-like shaped plumes of tropospheric bromine monoxide (BrO) are regularly observed by GOME-2 on board the MetOp-A satellite over Arctic sea ice in polar spring. These plumes are often transported by high-latitude cyclones, sometimes over several days despite the short atmospheric lifetime of BrO. However, only few studies have focused on the role of polar weather systems in the development, duration and transport of tropospheric BrO plumes during bromine explosion events. The latter are caused by an autocatalytic chemical chain reaction associated with tropospheric ozone depletion and initiated by the release of bromine from cold brine-covered ice or snow to the atmosphere.
In this manuscript, a case study investigating a comma-shaped BrO plume which developed over the Beaufort Sea and was observed by GOME-2 for several days is presented. By making combined use of satellite data and numerical models, it is shown that the occurrence of the plume was closely linked to frontal lifting in a polar cyclone and that it most likely resided in the lowest 3 km of the troposphere. In contrast to previous case studies, we demonstrate that the dry conveyor belt, a potentially bromine-rich stratospheric air stream which can complicate interpretation of satellite retrieved tropospheric BrO, is spatially separated from the observed BrO plume. It is concluded that weather conditions associated with the polar cyclone favoured the bromine activation cycle and blowing snow production, which may have acted as a bromine source during the bromine explosion event.