The polar snowpack (and sea-ice) plays a major role in affecting overlying boundary layer chemistry and has only recently come to light. Furthermore, the understanding of this system and its importance is steadily growing. Investigations done thus far, nonetheless, examined the subsets of the polar environment as an uncoupled system. Analogous to some materials, the surface of snow/ice exhibits thin liquid layers (e.g., the quasi-liquid layer (QLL) and brine layer (BL)). This paper gives an overview of thin liquid films and illustrations of their function in Earth science. The impact of such films in polar science (i.e., polar snowpack photochemistry) is discussed within the context of how field data has been elucidated through laboratory data and modeling techniques. Specifically, what laboratory and modeling investigations have revealed about the effect of thin liquid layers on constraining field observations and, more importantly, the physicochemical mechanisms that govern the behavior of trace gases within the snowpack (and sea-ice) and how they are released from the polar snowpack. Current and future impacts of these findings are discussed, along with putative implications of the effect of thin liquid films in planetary science.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science
- General Earth and Planetary Sciences