Arctic Sea-Ice-Zone Blowing Snow - Contribution to Sea Salt Aerosol (ABSCISSA)

Lead Research Organisation: NERC British Antarctic Survey
Department Name: Science Programmes

Abstract

The Arctic sea ice zone (SIZ) affects atmospheric composition and climate, and it is responding rapidly to climate change. We urgently need to quantify its influence on the regional/global atmosphere so we can predict how this may change in the future. Arctic research is logistically and scientifically challenging, and continually relies on new international partnerships, shared science expertise, data, and logistics. This scientific context and modus operandi entirely reflects our focus and approach within the proposed ABSCISSA project.

Our scientific focus is the potential of the Arctic SIZ to be a source of sea salt aerosol (SSA). Aerosols are small particles in the atmosphere which play several critical roles. They affect the transmission of sunlight and the formation of clouds. They host the production of halogen compounds to the atmosphere which in turn affect atmospheric oxidation chemistry and the availability of mercury to the food chain - a major current health concern for Arctic people. When they are deposited on polar ice caps, sea salt aerosols leave a record of past conditions that can be accessed by drilling ice cores. So it's important to pinpoint and quantify sources of SSA. There is strong evidence that in the polar regions, the source is the effect of wind blowing on salty snow on the sea ice surface. If this is right, it opens the possibility of using ice core data to derive changes in sea ice extent over long time periods. It is therefore important to understand the sources of polar sea salt aerosol and to be able to predict how they may vary with, and feedback to, climate.

Field work within the SIZ is challenging - the area is hard to access and very few ship-based programmes operate there, particularly during the winter. However in winter 2015, the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI) will host a cruise on their research ship, Lance, deep within the Arctic SIZ. We have negotiated a chance to participate but need funding for the mandatory financial contribution. We have established new project partners in NPI with whom to work. Our scientific aim is to determine whether wind-blown snow on sea ice really is the dominant source of Arctic sea salt aerosol, and to make a series of measurements needed to parameterise this process in numerical models. We will use the same methodology, equipment and personnel deployed by us during a previous successful winter cruise to the Antarctic SIZ (funded by NERC), thus using previous NERC investment as a springboard for this Arctic research. The Arctic SIZ is substantially different from that of the Antarctic so to assess sea salt sources and impacts in the Arctic, we must have data derived directly from the Arctic SIZ. The collaboration with NPI is highly mutually beneficial: NPI logistics will enable access to an otherwise inaccessible region; we will make novel measurements, needed, but not made by our NPI partners; similarly, their data will fill gaps in our measurement suite; we will all contribute expertise for data interpretation. Such working practices provide considerable leverage, and build strong collaborations for the future.

Strategically, the project fits within a government-level MoU that aims to increase scientific collaboration between the UK and Norway. The project fits NERC aspirations for BAS to assume an increased role in the Arctic. In the longer-term, we will use our data i) to scale up to derive an Arctic regional source, ii) to compare with sea salt production over Antarctica, iii) to assess the impact on chemical composition of the atmosphere, and iv) to assess the suitability of sea salt aerosol as a sea ice proxy. Our results thus contribute to a range of different academic groups, raise the profile and momentum of UK science within the Arctic, and contribute to an area of intense scientific, political and public interest: the socio-economic and climatic implications and feedbacks associated with reducing Arctic sea ice extent.

Planned Impact

Our ABSCISSA project has 2 immediate outcomes: i) a unique set of measurements from the Arctic winter sea ice zone from which we can parameterise, in numerical models, the source of sea salt aerosol (SSA) from blowing snow; ii) a firm basis of partnership with scientists at the Norwegian Polar Institute which will act as a springboard for future collaborations.

Potential beneficiaries of the project, in the long- and short-term, would gain in the following ways:

* Those who need to access the ice-covered areas of the polar regions, with obvious economic (shipping, resources, insurance) and geopolitical implications, benefit from improved (confidence in) models of current sea ice and future predictions. Such improvements can be achieved through learning about palaeo sea ice, e.g. from a quantitative proxy of sea ice extent. While such a proxy potentially lies in the sea salt record in ice cores, its development needs input regarding sources of sea salt, and its link to sea ice surfaces - data we aim to generate within ABSCISSA.

* The same beneficiaries gain from improved understanding of sea ice zone processes, including its mass and radiative balance. Such improved understanding will ultimately come from the work of cryosphere/atmosphere scientists, such as our PPs at NPI, with whom we will share our field data and parameterisations.

* The chemical environment in which people live, in terms of air quality and exposure to contaminants, is a key concern for policy makers. In the Arctic, mercury is already a serious health issue, and improved estimates of factors affecting its production, such as sources of SSA, are urgently required. With Arctic-specific parameterisations of SSA sources, models would be primed to predict the impact on halogen chemistry (and consequently on surface ozone and mercury) of changing Arctic sea ice characteristics (e.g. in terms of changing salinity), and extent.

* Reducing uncertainty in assessments of atmospheric radiative forcing is critical for policy makers dealing with adaptation/mitigation strategies for climate change. The effect of aerosols on the global radiation balance, including its direct and indirect radiative effects, is a key uncertainty in climate models. A recent publication identified the large contribution of natural aerosols to uncertainty in radiative forcing, concluding that reductions in this uncertainty must include improved assessments of natural aerosol sources. Our assessment of SSA production from Arctic blowing snow would directly contribute to reducing this uncertainty.

* Given the pace of change observed over recent years, understanding the Arctic environment, the drivers of change, and predicting future impacts, has risen considerably on the UK science agenda. ABSCISSA would contribute to these strategic ambitions, both from the research we would carry out, but also from the strong links to the Norwegian Polar Institute that we would build. These links would provide a foundation for further UK-Norway collaborations, through establishing a model for scientific co-operation, sharing data, expertise, and logistics.

* As scientists, we have a role in making science exciting and accessible to the public and to students. Like many projects in the Arctic, ABSCISSA has considerable potential as an exemplar of how science is done and how exciting it can be. BAS and the PI's group have a strong record of public outreach, and we will use our usual channels (e.g. public lectures, visits to BAS by groups such as the Cambridge Programme for Industry, visits to schools and web material) to convey this exciting science and the benefits of science collaborations.
 
Description There were two overriding objectives to the ABSCISSA project. One was to carry out a field measurement campaign within the Arctic sea ice zone to generate a dataset from which to assess the potential, within the Arctic, for snow on sea ice to act as a source of sea salt aerosol. The second objective was to establish a firm collaboration with colleagues at the Norwegian Polar Institute, to enable data- and expertise-sharing, to address both their and our science objectives.

The ABSCISSA field project took place in early 2015 during a 6-week portion of the January-June N-ICE research cruise. The field measurement campaign was extremely successful, with novel datasets and samples collected. At this stage sample analysis has been completed, and data work-up is in progress. A number of instruments were left on the ship for the entire duration of the 6-month cruise, yielding an unsurpassed dataset from which to study high-latitude trace gas chemistry.

During the field measurements, a novel approach was taken to provide power to the instruments on the sea ice via a fuel cell. The fuel cell performed extremely well, and is thus recommended as a means of powering field equipment for remote deployment within equivalent polar conditions.

Collaborative work has been aided by a visit of BAS scientists to Norway, and we anticipate the return visit during 2016. Joint research papers, based on shared data, are in production, thereby meeting the second objective of the ABSCISSA project.
Exploitation Route The primary application for the ABSCISSA data is to parameterise, in numerical models, the source of sea salt aerosol from blowing snow in the Arctic. This is important for those assessing the effects of aerosol on global/regional radiation balance. The direct and indirect radiative effects are both key uncertainties in radiative transfer calculations, and pinning them down is particularly important in the Arctic, given the pace of environmental change occurring there.

Sea salt aerosol acts as a source of halogens to the atmosphere, which is particularly important in the Arctic because of their influence on ground-level ozone and atmospheric mercury. Those studying ground-level ozone depletion events, and atmospheric mercury depletion events, need parameterisations for sea salt aerosol sources in order to realistically model processes and impacts. Mercury, in particular, is an important health issue in the Arctic, and improved factors affecting its production, such as sources of sea salt aerosol, are urgently required.

Research in the polar regions can provide wonderful examples of exciting science. The ABSCISSA project is no exception, and field blogs and an interactive Skype lesson have already arising as a result of the campaign. To capitalise on the material, further outreach activities are planned.
Sectors Education,Environment,Other

 
Description The field experience during ABSCISSA, aboard the R/V Lance, was reported through a series of blogs (http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/about_bas/news/news_story.php?id=2923) which received over 1000 hits. The blogs also resulted in an invitation from an educational media company, Digital explorer, to participated in 'Arctic Live!', a series of Interactive Skype Lessons delivered to school children in the UK and US. The lesson arising from the ABSCISSA project was delivered to ~60 high school students.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Education,Other
Impact Types Societal

 
Description UK-Canada Arctic Partnership: 2018 Bursaries Programme
Amount £20,000 (GBP)
Organisation Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 07/2018
 
Title ABSCISSA field data 
Description A suite of measurements made within the Arctic sea ice zone of: i) snow salinity profiles; ii) size spectrum, salinity, and ionic composition of blowing snow layers over sea ice; iii) size spectrum and ionic composition of sea salt aerosol above blowing snow events; iv) meteorological conditions. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact These data form the basis of publications currently being written. 
 
Description Collaboration with NPI scientists 
Organisation Norwegian Veterinary Institute
Country Norway 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The BAS team provided and ran instrumentation on board the R/V Lance during the ABSCISSA phase of the N-ICE cruise. BAS scientists are responsible for analysing snow/filter samples, and working up and interpreting all BAS-instrument data. Some of these data are of particular interest to NPI scientists.
Collaborator Contribution The NPI provided access to the research platform (i.e. the R/V Lance) as well as all associated logistics. They also share relevant datasets and expertise.
Impact Measurement dataset derived from the ABSCISSA component of the N-ICE cruise.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Collaboration with Prof. Kouichi Nishimura (Nagoya University / Japan) 
Organisation Nagoya University
Department Graduate School of Environmental Studies
Country Japan 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The BAS team deployed a snow particle counter owned by Prof. Nishimura during the ABSCISSA field phase on the N-ICE2015 sea ice cruise. Measurements of snow particle concentration and size distribution above sea ice were carried out, followed by data processing, conference presentations and publications (in preparation) with collaborator Prof. Nishimura as co-author.
Collaborator Contribution Prof. Nishimura and his team provided a snow particle counter (SPC) on loan to the BAS team, carried out instrument calibration prior to the N-IC2015 field season and provided the expertise needed to process and interpret the data.
Impact M.M. Frey, S. Norris, I.M. Brooks, K. Nishimura, A.E. Jones, Arctic Sea Salt Aerosol from Blowing Snow and Sea Ice Surfaces - a Missing Natural Source in Winter, Conference Abstract No. A23I-05, AGU Fall Meeting San Francisco, 2015. M.M. Frey, S. Norris, I.M. Brooks, K. Nishimura, A.E. Jones, Arctic Sea-Ice-Zone Blowing Snow - Contribution to Sea Salt Aerosol (ABSCISSA), oral presentation at N-ICE2015 workshop, Malangen Brygge / Norway, 17-19 Nov 2015. M.M. Frey, S. Norris, I.M. Brooks, K. Nishimura, P.A. Anderson, S. Palm, A.E. Jones, E.W. Wolff, Sea Salt Aerosol from Blowing Snow and Sea Ice Surfaces - a Missing Natural Source in Winter, invited seminar at Grad. School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Japan, 29 Jun 2016.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Collaboration with S. Palm (NASA GSFC) 
Organisation National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Department Goddard Space Flight Center
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution The BAS team carried out ground based observations of blowing snow (BS) above sea ice events in the Weddell Sea during a winter cruise in 2013. The observations are used to validate BS satellite retrievals above Antarctica. The BAS observations include snow particle concentrations and size distribution at two levels, which are provided to test the BS algorithm.
Collaborator Contribution S. Palm & team provided maps of BS occurrence in the Weddell sea based on satellite retrievals. These are being used to upscale the point measurements of sea salt aerosol production made by the BAS team, and therefore to assess the significants and wider impacts of BS as a source for new particles above sea ice.
Impact Conference & workshop presentations: - IGS Sea Ice Conference, Hobart / Australia, March 2014 (oral) - AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, December 2014 (poster) - LGGE Halogen Workshop, Grenoble, October 2015 (oral) - N-ICE2015 Workshop, Malangen, November 2015 (oral) - AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, December 2015 (oral) - Invited seminar presentation at Nagoya University / Japan (Prof. K. Nishimura), June 2016
Start Year 2013
 
Description ABSCISSA Media post 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact A media post news story was written for the website of the British Antarctic Survey describing the ABSCISSA project during the field work component.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.bas.ac.uk/media-post/extreme-science-in-extreme-conditions-frozen-in-to-the-arctic-winte...
 
Description ABSCISSA blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Regular blog written during the fieldwork component of ABSCISSA. Over 1,000 hits. Led to invitation to deliver interactive on-line Skype lesson as part of "Arctic Live".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.bas.ac.uk/project/abscissa-arctic-sea-ice-zone-blowing-snow/#blog
 
Description ABSCISSA web pages 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Web pages generated to describe the ABSCISSA project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.bas.ac.uk/project/abscissa-arctic-sea-ice-zone-blowing-snow/#about
 
Description Anna invited talk at Edinburgh University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invitation to give talk at University of Edinburgh as part of their regular seminar series, included presenting material/results from BLOWSEA.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Digital Explorer 'Arctic Live!' Skype Lesson 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact School lessons during 'Arctic Live Week' organised by London based media company 'Digital Explorer' and delivered via 'Skype in the Classroom'. Each year a total of up to a 100 pupils attended several online 45 minute long lessons. Each lesson comprised a 15 minute lecture on the personal bio of a 'polar researcher' (http://oceans.digitalexplorer.com/events/arctic-live-2017/team/), a description of recent field work experiments in the Arctic and how they help improve our understanding of current climate change at the poles. The lecture was then followed by a 30 minute Q&A session moderated by the respective school teacher. Schools and pupils reported increased interest in the environmental sciences, and specifically into polar research, often with follow-up questions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016,2017
URL http://oceans.digitalexplorer.com/events/
 
Description London International Youth Scientific Forum (LIYSF) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Since 2016 Dr. M. Frey engages with the London International Youth Scientific Forum, which attracts each year ca 500 students (age 16-20 yr) from all over the world. In 2016 he gave a lecture and led a study day on Polar Research; in 2017 he organised a visit of LIYSF students to the British Antarctic Survey and gave a lecture.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
URL http://www.liysf.org.uk
 
Description Markus invited talk to UEA 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invitation to give talk at the University of East Anglia as part of their regular seminar series. Led to useful discussions and networking, with subsequent joint studentship application.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Sky News Interview on Arctic Sea Ice Change 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact On 19th December Sky Atlantic aired their documentary Artic Peril. It follows the latest expedition of Lewis Pugh as he swims along the Arctic ice edge, examining the effects of climate change. Dr. M. Frey was invited to speak in the 'All out Politics' segment about his views and experiences of climate change and the risk of global warming in the Arctic region giving examples of his own polar field research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://mms.tveyes.com/mediaview/?U3RhdGlvbj01MzAmU3RhcnREYXRlVGltZT0xMiUyRjE5JTJGMjAxNyUyMDEwJTNBND...
 
Description UKinArctic Twitter Campaign 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A twitter campaign was launched to highlight and explain ongoing UK science in the Arctic. This was facilitated by the British Embassy in Russia (Tatiana Iakovleva | Senior Science & Innovation Adviser| UK Science & Innovation Network (SIN Russia)). Dr. M. Frey provided text, photographs and video clips to illustrate his research undertaken on the recent N-ICE2015 sea ice cruise. The twitter campaign reached a wide audience across the globe and the short video clips received close to 3000 views.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://twitter.com/markusfrey2?lang=en