Impact of nitric acid on ice evaporation rates

Matthew S. Warshawsky, Mark Andrew Zondlo, Margaret A. Tolbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Recent studies have suggested that nitric acid uptake by ice clouds may decrease ice evaporation rates and thereby prolong the cloud lifetimes. To test this suggestion, ice desorption rates were studied as a function of HNO3 partial pressure (10-6-10-5 Torr), relative humidity (28-92%), and temperature (192-204 K) using optical interference of a helium neon laser. Ice evaporation rates in the presence of 1 x 10-6 Torr HNO3 were indistinguishable from those of pure ice. In contrast, ice evaporation in the presence of 8 x 10-6 Torr HNO3 resulted in lower evaporation rates by 33% relative to pure ice. Higher partial pressures of HNO3 result in a supercooled H2O/HNO3 liquid layer over ice, which may freeze to form a sealed NAT coating. This causes a lowering of the ice evaporation rate and prolongs the lifetime of ice. Ice exposed to lower partial pressures of HNO3 will not form a liquid layer and will thus evaporate at the same rate as pure ice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)823-826
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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