7 June, 2000
The tent was warm. It was morning and the tent was already warm. I didn't have to pull my clothes on over 'goose bumps' for the first time in Greenland. The 'Arctic Oven' tent was living up to its name finally. Temperatures today stayed around -11 C with almost no wind. A startlingly blue sky charmed us all day today, too.
The 3 of us crunched our way out to an untrampled area between the science Quonset hut and the science trench. Mike Dziobak, research associate, and Yanyan Lu, graduate student, with Dr. Richard Honrath of Michigan Technology University, and I were out to set up an experiment for another researcher, Dr. Sarah Green, who could not be present. We dug little snow pits of 40 cm deep to place sealed glass rods horizontally in the snow layers. Within the sealed rods was nitrate in a solution that would not allow freezing. The purpose was to expose those compounds to different amounts of light as the depth decreased. The rods are sealed to prevent any reactions other than those caused by the light. It is suspected that photochemical destruction (reactions caused by light) of nitrates occurs to a significant degree in or on the snow surface, creating other nitrogen compounds. Nitrogen compounds can affect the cycling of tropospheric nitrogen and ozone. The polar regions were first thought to be a 'sink,' or inert reservoir, of these compounds. But if current hypotheses are correct, the polar regions take the nitrogen compounds that float in from industrial emissions and keep them active photochemically. Tomorrow we will recover the glass rods and pack them so that they have no more light to cause further reactions for Dr. Honrath to take back to Dr. Green.
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