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Award Abstract #0125761

South Pole Atmospheric Nitrate Isotopic Analysis (SPANIA)

Division Of Polar Programs
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Initial Amendment Date: April 25, 2002
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Latest Amendment Date: July 13, 2002
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Award Number: 0125761
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Award Instrument: Standard Grant
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Program Manager: Julie Palais
PLR Division Of Polar Programs
GEO Directorate For Geosciences
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Start Date: May 1, 2002
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End Date: April 30, 2005 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $338,324.00
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Investigator(s): Mark Thiemens mthiemens@ucsd.edu (Principal Investigator)
Joel Savarino (Former Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: University of California-San Diego
Office of Contract & Grant Admin
La Jolla, CA 92093-0934 (858)534-4896
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Program Reference Code(s): 1318, 4444, EGCH
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Program Element Code(s): 1524, 5116


This award supports a detailed laboratory analysis of the mass-independent isotopic composition of processes associated with atmospheric nitrate trapped in the snow pack at the South Pole. The project will specifically test if the oxygen isotopes 16O, 17O, 18O of nitrate can be used to probe the denitrification of the Antarctic stratosphere. Despite decades of research, there are several important issues in Antarctic atmospheric science, which are presently inadequately resolved. This includes quantification over time of the sources of nitrate aerosols. Today, little is known about the past denitrification of the stratosphere in high latitude regions. This lack of knowledge significantly limits our ability to understand the chemical state of ancient atmospheres and therefore evaluate present and past-coupled climate/atmosphere models. The role of nitrogen in environmental degradation is well known. This issue will also be addressed in this proposal. Atmospheric aerosols have now been shown to possess a mass-independent oxygen isotopic content. The proposed research will investigate the stable oxygen isotope ratios of nitrate in Antarctica both collected in real time and from the snow. Two periods of time will be covered. Full year nitrate aerosol collections, with week resolution time horizons, will be performed at the South Pole. Weekly aerosol collections will help us to identify any seasonal trend of the oxygen-17 excess anomaly, and eventually link this anomaly to the denitrification of the Antarctic stratosphere. This data set will also be used to test our assumption that the oxygen isotopic anomaly of nitrate is mainly formed in the stratosphere and is well preserved in the snow pack. If true, we will for the first time resolve an atmospheric signal extracted from a nitrate profile. The snow pit will allow us to see any trend in the data on a multiple decade timescale.


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