Different photolysis kinetics at the surface of frozen freshwater vs. frozen salt solutions

T. F. Kahan, N. O.A. Kwamena, D. J. Donaldson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Reactions at air-ice interfaces can proceed at very different rates than those in aqueous solution, due to the unique disordered region at the ice surface known as the quasi-liquid layer (QLL) . The physical and chemical nature of the surfacial region of ice is greatly affected by solutes such as sodium halide salts. In this work, we studied the effects of sodium chloride and sodium bromide on the photolysis kinetics of harmine, an aromatic organic compound, in aqueous solution and at the surface of frozen salt solutions above the eutectic temperature. In common with other aromatic organic compounds we have studied, harmine photolysis is much faster on ice surfaces than in aqueous solution, but the presence of NaCl or NaBr - which does not affect photolysis kinetics in solution - reduces the photolysis rate on ice. The rate decreases monotonically with increasing salt concentration; at the concentrations found in seawater, harmine photolysis at the surface of frozen salt solutions proceeds at the same rate as in aqueous solution. These results suggest that the brine excluded to the surfaces of frozen salt solutions is a true aqueous solution, and so it may be possible to use aqueous-phase kinetics to predict photolysis rates at sea ice surfaces. This is in marked contrast to the result at the surface of frozen freshwater samples, where reaction kinetics are often not well-described by aqueous-phase processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10917-10922
Number of pages6
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number22
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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