“The exciting thing we found is that the nitrate in snow interacts with the sunlight and sets off a very rapid series of photochemical reactions, producing NOx,” Research Associate Professor from the University of New Hampshire, Jack Dibb, told edie on 26 July.

Professor Dibb said that he and his team had discovered NOx concentrations of 500 to 600 particles per trillion in snow only 10cm deep in Southern Greenland, an area which is almost pollution-free. “Before this research, we would have expected to find NOx levels at nearly zero,” Dibb said.

Prior to this research, it was believed that remote areas, far from pollution centres, would have virtually no NOx at ground level. “We know that pollution cannot be an important factor in NOx production in such places, and that sunlight is the cause,” Dibb said.

The researchers from the University of New Hampshire and Michigan Technological University are to continue their research in Antarctica into how there can be such a high amount of NOx formed from the nitrate in snow.

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