Skip to main content Accessibility help

Snow chemistry across Antarctica

  • N. Bertler (a1), P.A. Mayewski (a2), A. Aristarain (a3), P. Barrett (a1), S. Becagli (a4), R. Bernardo (a5), S. Bo (a6), Xiao C. (a7), M. Curran (a8), Qin D. (a9), D. Dixon (a2), F. Ferrona (a5), H. Fischer (a10), M. Frey (a11), M. Frezzotti (a12), F. Fundel (a10), C. Genthon (a13), R. Gragnani (a12), G. Hamilton (a2), M. Handley (a2), S. Hong (a14), E. Isaksson (a15), Kang J. (a6), Ren J. (a9), K. Kamiyama (a16), S. Kanamori (a16), E. Kärkäs (a17), L. Karlöf (a15), S. Kaspari (a2), K. Kreutz (a2), E. Meyerson (a2), A. Kurbatov (a2), Y. Ming (a6), Zhang M. (a9), H. Motoyama (a16), R. Mulvaney (a18), H. Oerter (a10), E. Osterberg (a2), M. Proposito (a12), A. Pyne (a1), U. Ruth (a10), J. Simões (a5), B. Smith (a8), S. Sneed (a2), K. Teinilä (a19), F. Traufetter (a10), R. Udisti (a4), A. Virkkula (a17), O. Watanabe (a16), B. Williamson (a2), J-G. Winther (a15), Li Y. (a6), E. Wolff (a18), Li Z. (a9) and A. Zielinski (a2)...


An updated compilation of published and new data of major-ion (Ca, Cl, K, Mg, Na, NO3, SO4) and methylsulfonate (MS) concentrations in snow from 520 Antarctic sites is provided by the national ITASE (International Trans-Antarctic Scientific Expedition) programmes of Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States and the national Antarctic programme of Finland. The comparison shows that snow chemistry concentrations vary by up to four orders of magnitude across Antarctica and exhibit distinct geographical patterns. The Antarctic-wide comparison of glaciochemical records provides a unique opportunity to improve our understanding of the fundamental factors that ultimately control the chemistry of snow or ice samples. This paper aims to initiate data compilation and administration in order to provide a framework for facilitation of Antarctic-wide snow chemistry discussions across all ITASE nations and other contributing groups. The data are made available through the ITASE web page ( and will be updated with new data as they are provided. In addition, recommendations for future research efforts are summarized.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Snow chemistry across Antarctica
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Snow chemistry across Antarctica
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Snow chemistry across Antarctica
      Available formats



Hide All
Aristarain, A. and Delmas, R.J.. 2002. Snow chemistry measurements on James Ross Island (Antarctic Peninsula) showing sea-salt aerosol modifications. Atmos. Environ., 36, 765–772.
Becagli, S. and 12 others. 2004. Chemical and isotopic snow variability in East Antarctica along the 2001/02 ITASE traverse. Ann. Glaciol., 39, 473–482.
Becagli, S. and 6 others. 2005. Spatial distribution of biogenic sulphur compounds (MSA, nssSO4 2–) in the northern Victoria Land–Dome C–Wilkes Land area, East Antarctica. Ann. Glaciol., 41 (see paper in this volume).
Benassai, S. and 7 others. 2005. Sea-spray deposition in Antarctic coastal and plateau areas from ITASE traverses. Ann. Glaciol., 41 (see paper in this volume).
Bertler, N.A.N., Barrett, P.J., Mayewski, P.A., Fogt, R.L., Kreutz, K.J. and Shulmeister, J.. 2004a. El Niño suppresses Antarctic warming. Geophys. Res. Lett., 31(15), L15207. (10.1029/ 2004GL020749.)
Bertler, N.A.N., Mayewski, P.A., Barrett, P.J., Sneed, S.B., Handley, M.J. and Kreutz, K.J.. 2004b. Monsoonal circulation of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Ross Sea region: signal from the snow chemistry. Ann. Glaciol., 39, 139–145.
Bertler, N.A.N., Mayewski, P.A., Sneed, S.B., Naish, T.R., Morgenstern, U. and Barrett, P.J.. 2005. Solar forcing recorded by aerosol concentrations in coastal Antarctic glacier ice, McMurdo Dry Valleys. Ann. Glaciol., 41 (see paper in this volume).
Clausen, H.B. 1995. Group meeting on nitrate sources in Antarctica and Greenland. In Delmas, R.J., ed. Ice core studies of global biogeochemical cycles. Berlin, etc., Springer-Verlag, 247–248. (NATO ASI Series I: Global Environmental Change 30.)
Curran, M.A.J., van Ommen, T.D. and Morgan, V.. 1998. Seasonal characteristics of the major ions in the high-accumulation Dome Summit South ice core, Law Dome, Antarctica. Ann. Glaciol., 27, 385–390.
De Angelis, M. and Legrand, M.. 1995. Preliminary investigations of post depositional effects of HCl, HNO3, and organic acids in polar firn layers. In Delmas, R.J., ed. Ice core studies of global biogeochemical cycles. Berlin, Springer-Verlag, 361–381. (NATO ASI Series I: Global Environmental Change 30.)
Delmas, R.J., Barnola, J.M. and Legrand, M.. 1982. Gas-derived aerosol in central Antarctic snow and ice: the case of sulphuric and nitric acids. Ann. Glaciol., 3, 71–76.
Delmas, R.J., Wagnon, P., Goto-Azuma, K., Kamiyama, K. and Watanabe, O.. 2003. Evidence for the loss of snow-deposited MSA to the interstitial gaseous phase in central Antarctic firn. Tellus, 55B(1), 71–79.
Dixon, D., Mayewski, P.A., Kaspari, S., Sneed, S. and Handley, M.. 2004. A 200 year sub-annual record of sulfate inWest Antarctica from 16 ice cores. Ann. Glaciol., 39, 545–556.
EPICA community. 2004. Eight glacial cycles from an Antarctic ice core. Nature, 429(6992), 623–628.
Evans, W.J.F., McElroy, C.T. and Galbally, I.E.. 1985. The conversion of N2O5 to HNO3 at high latitudes in winter. Geophys. Res. Lett., 12(12), 825–828.
Gayley, R.I. and Ram, M.. 1985. Atmospheric dust in polar ice and the background aerosol. J. Geophys. Res., 90(D7), 12,921– 12,925.
Gow, A.J. 1965. On the accumulation and seasonal stratification of snow at the South Pole. J. Glaciol., 5(40), 467–477.
Jones, A.E. and 6 others. 2001. Measurements of NOx emissions from the Antarctic snowpack. Geophys. Res. Lett., 28(8), 1499–1502.
Kaspari, S., Mayewski, P.A., Dixon, D.A., Sneed, S.B. and Handley, M.J.. 2005. Sources and transport pathways of marine aerosol species intoWest Antarctica. Ann. Glaciol., 41 (see paper in this volume).
Kreutz, K.J. and Mayewski, P.A.. 1999. Spatial variability of Antarctic surface snow glaciochemistry: implications for paleoatmospheric circulation reconstructions. Antarct. Sci., 11(1), 105–118.
Kreutz, K.J., Mayewski, P.A., Whitlow, S.I. and Twickler, M.S.. 1998. Limited migration of soluble ionic species in a Siple Dome, Antarctica, ice core. Ann. Glaciol., 27, 371–377.
Kreutz, K.J. and 11 others. 1999. Seasonal variations of glaciochemical, isotopic and stratigraphic properties in Siple Dome (Antarctica) surface snow. Ann. Glaciol., 29, 38–44.
Kreutz, K.J., Mayewski, P.A., Meeker, L.D., Twickler, M.S. and Whitlow, S.I.. 2000. The effect of spatial and temporal accumulation rate variability in West Antarctica on soluble ion deposition. Geophys. Res. Lett., 27(16), 2517–2520.
Legrand, M. 1995. Sulphur-derived species in polar ice: a review. In Delmas, R.J., ed. Ice core studies of global biogeochemical cycles. Berlin, Springer-Verlag, 91–119. (NATO ASI Series I: Global Environmental Change 30.)
Legrand, M. and Delmas, R.J.. 1986. Relative contributions of tropospheric and stratospheric sources to nitrate in Antarctic snow. Tellus, 38B(3–4), 236–249.
Legrand, M.R. and Kirchner, S.. 1990. Origins and variations of nitrate in south polar precipitation. J. Geophys. Res., 95(D4), 3493–3507.
Legrand, M. and Mayewski, P.. 1997. Glaciochemistry of polar ice cores: a review. Rev. Geophys., 35(3), 219–243.
Liu, H., Jezek, K.C., Li, B. and Zhao, Z.. 2001. RADARSAT Antarctic Mapping Project digital elevation model version 2. Boulder, CO, National Snow and Ice Data Center.
Mayewski, P.A. and Legrand, M.. 1990. Recent increase in nitrate concentration of Antarctic snow. Nature, 346(6281), 258–260.
Mayewski, P.A. and White, F.. 2002. The ice chronicles. Hanover, NH, University Press of New England.
Mayewski, P.A., Lyons, W.B., Spencer, M.J., Twickler, M.S., Buck, C.F. and Whitlow, S.. 1990. An ice core record of atmospheric response to anthropogenic sulphate and nitrate. Nature, 346(6284), 554–556.
Mayewski, P.A., Spencer, M.J. and Lyons, W.B.. 1992. A review of glaciochemistry with particular emphasis on the recent record of sulfate and nitrate. In Moore, B. and David, S., eds. Proceedings of the 1988 OIED Global Change Institute: Trace Gases and the Biosphere. Boulder, CO, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research/Office of Interdisciplinary Earth Studies, 177–199.
Mayewski, P.A. and 11 others. 1995. An ice-core-based, Late Holocene history for the Transantarctic Mountains, Antarctica. In Elliot, D.H. and Blaisdell, G.L., eds. Contributions to Antarctic research IV. Washington, DC, American Geophysical Union, 33–45. (Antarctic Research Series 67.)
McKenzie, R.L. and Johnston, P.V.. 1984. Springtime stratospheric NO2 in Antarctica. Geophys. Res. Lett., 11(1), 73–75.
Meyerson, E.A., Mayewski, P.A., Kreutz, K.J., Meeker, L.D., Whitlow, S.I. and Twickler, M.S.. 2002. The polar expression of ENSO and sea-ice variability as recorded in a South Pole ice core. Ann. Glaciol., 35, 430–436.
Minikin, A. and 7 others. 1998. Sulfur-containing species (sulfate and methanesulfonate) in coastal Antarctic aerosol and precipitation. J. Geophys. Res., 103(D9), 10,975–10,990.
Mulvaney, R. and Peel, D.A.. 1988. Anions and cations in ice cores from Dolleman Island and the Palmer Land plateau, Antarctic Peninsula. Ann. Glaciol., 10, 121–125.
Mulvaney, R. and Wolff, E.W.. 1994. Spatial variability of the major chemistry of the Antarctic ice sheet. Ann. Glaciol., 20, 440–447.
Mulvaney, R., Pasteur, E.C., Peel, D.A., Saltzman, E.S. and Whung, P.Y.. 1992. The ratio of MSA to non-sea-salt sulphate in Antarctic Peninsula ice cores. Tellus, 44B(4), 295–303.
Mulvaney, R.o, Wagenbach, D. and Wolff, E.. 1998. Post-depositional change in snowpack nitrate from observation of year-round near-surface snow in coastal Antarctica. J. Geophys. Res., 103(D9), 11,021–11,031.
Palmer, A.S., van Ommen, T.D., Curran, M.A.J. and Morgan, V.. 2001. Ice-core evidence for a small solar-source of atmospheric nitrate. Geophys. Res. Lett., 28(10), 1953–1956.
Parker, B.C. and Zeller, E.J.. 1980. Nitrogenous chemical composition of Antarctic snow and ice. Antarct. J. US, 15(5), 79–81.
Parker, B.C., Zeller, E.J. and Gow, A.J.. 1981. Nitrogenous chemical composition of Antarctic snow and ice. Antarct. J. US, 16(5), 79–81.
Parker, B.C., Dreschhoff, G.A.M., Laird, C.M. and Zeller, E.J.. 1982. Nitrates in South Pole snow. Antarct. J. US, 17(5), 88–89.
Proposito, M. and 9 others. 2002. Chemical and isotopic snow variability along the 1998 ITASE traverse from Terra Nova Bay to Dome C, East Antarctica. Ann. Glaciol., 35, 187–194.
Qin, D., Zeller, E.J. and Dreschhoff, G.A.M.. 1992. The distribution of nitrate content in the surface snow of the Antarctic ice sheet along the route of the 1990 International Trans-Antarctic Expedition. J. Geophys. Res., 97(A5), 6277–6284.
Röthlisberger, R., Hutterli, M.A., Sommer, S., Wolff, E.W. and Mulvaney, R.. 2000. Factors controlling nitrate in ice cores: evidence from the Dome C deep ice core. J. Geophys. Res., 105(D16), 20,565–20,572.
Röthlisberger, R. and 10 others. 2002. Nitrate in Greenland and Antarctic ice cores: a detailed description of post-depositional processes. Ann. Glaciol., 35, 209–216.
Saltzman, E.S. 1995. Ocean/atmosphere cycling of dimethylsulfide. In Delmas, R.J., ed. Ice core studies of global biogeochemical cycles. Berlin, etc., Springer-Verlag, 65–90. (NATO ASI Sries I: Global Environmental Change 30.)
Saltzman, E.S., Whung, P.Y. and Mayewski, P.. 1997. Methanesulfonate in the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 ice core. J. Geophys. Res., 102(C12), 26,649–26,657.
Shaw, G.E. 1979. Consideration on the origin and optical properties of the Antarctic aerosol. Rev. Geophys. Space Phys., 17(8), 1983–1998.
Sigg, A. and Neftel, A.. 1988. Seasonal variations in hydrogen peroxide in polar ice cores. Ann. Glaciol., 10, 157–162.
Solomon, S. and Keys, J.G.. 1992. Seasonal variations in Antarctic NOx chemistry. J. Geophys. Res., 97(D8), 7971–7978.
Stenberg, M. and 7 others. 1998. Spatial variability of snow chemistry in western Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica. Ann. Glaciol., 27, 378–384.
Stenberg, M., Hansson, M., Holmlund, P. and Karlö f, L.. 1999. Variability in snow layering and snow chemistry in the vicinity of two drill sites in western Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica. Ann. Glaciol., 29, 33–37.
Toon, O.B., Hamill, P., Turco, R.P. and Pinto, J.O.. 1986. Condensation of HNO3 and HCl in the winter polar stratospheres. Geophys. Res. Lett., 13(12), 1284–1287.
Udisti, R., Traversi, R., Becagli, S. and Piccardi, G.. 1998. Spatial distribution and seasonal pattern of biogenic sulphur compounds in snow from northern Victoria Land, Antarctica. Ann. Glaciol., 27, 535–542.
Udisti, R., Becagli, S., Castellano, E., Traversi, R., Vermigli, S. and Piccardi, G.. 1999. Sea-spray and marine biogenic seasonal contribution to snow composition at Terra Nova Bay, Antarctica. Ann. Glaciol., 29, 77–83.
Udisti, R. and 7 others. 2004. Atmosphere–snow interaction by a comparison between aerosol and uppermost snow layers composition at Dome C (East Antarctica). Ann. Glaciol., 39, 53–65.
Wagenbach, D. 1996. Coastal Antarctica: atmospheric chemical composition and atmospheric transport. In Wolff, E.W. and R.C. Bales, , eds. Chemical exchange between the atmosphere and polar snow. Berlin, etc., Springer-Verlag, 173–199. (NATO ASI Series I: Global Environmental Change 43.)
Wagenbach, D., Legrand, M., Fischer, H., Pichlermayer, F. and Wolff, E.. 1998a. Atmospheric near-surface nitrate at coastal Antarctic sites. J. Geophys. Res., 103(D9), 11,007– 11,020.
Wagenbach, D. and 7 others. 1998b. Sea-salt aerosol in coastal Antarctic regions. J. Geophys. Res., 103(D9), 10,961– 10,974.
Wagnon, P., Delmas, R.J. and Legrand, M.. 1999. Loss of volatile acid species from upper firn layers at Vostok, Antarctica. J. Geophys. Res., 104(D3), 3423–3431.
Warneck, P. 1988. Chemistry of the natural atmosphere. San Diego, CA, Academic Press.
Welch, K., Mayewski, P.A. and Whitlow, S.I.. 1993. Methanesulfonic acid in coastal Antarctic snow related to sea-ice extent. Geophys. Res. Lett., 20(6), 443–446.
Weller, R., F. Traufetter, , Fischer, H., Oerter, H., Peel, C. and Miller, H.. 2004. Post-depositional losses of methane sulfonate nitrate and chlorine at the EPICA deep-drilling site in Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica. J. Geophys. Res., 109(D7), D07301. (10.1029/ 2003JD004189.)
Wolff, E.W. 1995. Nitrate in polar ice. In Delmas, R.J., ed. Ice core studies of global biogeochemical cycles. Berlin, etc., Springer-Verlag, 195–224. (NATO ASI Series I: Global Environmental Change 30.)
Wolff, E.W. and Mulvaney, R.. 1991. Reactions on sulphuric acid aerosol and on polar stratospheric clouds in the Antarctic stratosphere. Geophys. Res. Lett., 18, 1007–1010.
Wolff, E.W., Legrand, M.R. and Wagenbach, D.. 1998a. Coastal Antarctic aerosol and snowfall chemistry. J. Geophys. Res., 103(D9), 10,927–10,934.
Wolff, E.W., Wagenbach, D., Pasteur, E.C., Mulvaney, R., Legrand, M. and Hall, J.S.. 1998b. Relationship between chemistry of air, fresh snow and firn cores for aerosol species in coastal Antarctica. J. Geophys. Res., 103(D9), 11,057–11,070.
Wolff, E.W., Hall, J.S., Mulvaney, R., Pasteur, E.C., Wagenbach, D. and Legrand, M.. 2002. Modelling photochemical NOx production and nitrate loss in the upper snowpack of Antarctica. Geophys. Res. Lett., 29(20), 1944. (10.1029/2002GL015823.)
Xiao, C., Mayewski, P.A., Qin, D., Li, Z., Zhang, M. and Yan, Y.. 2004. Sea level pressure variability over the southern Indian Ocean inferred from a glaciochemical record in Princess Elizabeth Land, east Antarctica. J. Geophys. Res., 109(D16), D16101. (10.1029/2003JD004065.)
Yang, Q., Mayewski, P.A., Linder, E., Whitlow, S. and Twickler, M.. 1996a. Chemical species spatial distribution and relationship to elevation and snow accumulation rate over the Greenland ice sheet. J. Geophys. Res., 101(D13), 18,629–18,637.
Yang, Q., Mayewski, P.A., Zielinski, G.A., Twickler, M. and Taylor, K.C.. 1996b. Depletion of atmospheric nitrate and chloride as a consequence of the Toba volcanic eruption. Geophys. Res. Lett., 23(18), 2513–2516.
Zielinski, G.A. and 7 others. 1997. Volcanic aerosol records and tephrochronology of the Summit, Greenland, ice cores. J. Geophys. Res., 102(C12), 26,625–26,640.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Annals of Glaciology
  • ISSN: 0260-3055
  • EISSN: 1727-5644
  • URL: /core/journals/annals-of-glaciology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed