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Microorganisms in Dry Polar Snow Are Involved in the Exchanges of Reactive Nitrogen Species with the Atmosphere

Abstract : The snowpack is a complex photochemical reactor that emits a wide variety of reactive molecules to the atmosphere. In particular, the photolysis of nitrate ions, NO3−, produces NO, NO2, and HONO, which affects the oxidative capacity of the atmosphere. We report measurements in the European High Arctic where we observed for the first time emissions of NO, NO2, and HONO by the seasonal snowpack in winter, in the complete or near-complete absence of sunlight and in the absence of melting. We also detected unusually high concentrations of nitrite ions, NO2−, in the snow. These results suggest that microbial activity in the snowpack is responsible for the observed emissions. Isotopic analysis of NO2− and NO3− in the snow confirm that these ions, at least in part, do not have an atmospheric origin and are most likely produced by the microbial oxidation of NH4+ coming from clay minerals into NO2− and NO3−. These metabolic pathways also produce NO. Subsequent dark abiotic reactions lead to NO2 and HONO production. The snow cover is therefore not only an active photochemical reactor but also a biogeochemical reactor active in the cycling of nitrogen and it can affect atmospheric composition all year round.
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https://hal-insu.archives-ouvertes.fr/insu-00553562
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Submitted on : Friday, January 7, 2011 - 3:41:46 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 3:41:08 AM

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S. Amoroso, F. Dominè, G. Esposito, S. Morin, J. Savarino, et al.. Microorganisms in Dry Polar Snow Are Involved in the Exchanges of Reactive Nitrogen Species with the Atmosphere. Environmental Science & Technology, American Chemical Society, 2010, 44, pp.714-719. ⟨10.1021/es9027309⟩. ⟨insu-00553562⟩

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