Insignificant impact of freezing and compaction on iron solubility in natural snow

Pami Mukherjee, Mihaela Glamoclija, Yuan Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To explore the freezing effect on iron (Fe) solubility in natural environments, especially in Polar regions, event based freshly fallen snow samples were collected at Newark, New Jersey on the US East Coast for two consecutive winter seasons (2014–2015 and 2015–2016). These samples were analyzed for the concentrations of soluble iron (Fesol) using UV-Vis Spectroscopy and filterable iron (Fefil) and total iron (Fetot) using Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy. The average fractional solubility of the Fesol (the portion that passes through a 0.22 μm pore-size filter) with respect to the total Fe in the samples was 23.3 ± 12.2%, with the majority of the soluble Fe being present as Fe(III). Approximately 48.5% of the total Fe existed as Fefil (the portion that passes through 0.45 μm pore size filter media). No significant correlation was found between the soluble ionic species and soluble Fe. Six snow events were kept frozen for 10 days, and analyzed in periodic intervals to study the post-freezing modification in Fe solubility. Events 1 and 2 showed increasing trend in the soluble Fe concentrations; however, the events 5, 6, 7, and 8 showed no noticeable increments. The pattern shown in Events 1 and 2 is associated with high fraction of Fefil and one unit pH drop, suggesting that the freeze-induced modification in Fe solubility could be linked with the amount of Fefil and the acidity change in the samples. To further investigate the freeze-induced compaction of particles, samples from three events 6, 7, and 10 were analyzed by SEM-STEM-EDS microscopy, and the results showed that due to freezing, in general, the particles in the ice-melt counterparts tend to compact and cluster and form larger aggregates compared to the particles in snow-melt. These results show, despite the freeze-induced compaction in snow was observed from STEM images, the snow freezing might not have significant effect in increasing Fe solubility from materials in the snow. These results further suggest that freezing process with fresh snow in high-latitude regions may not impose significant modification on Fe solubility in snow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-270
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Atmospheric Chemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Atmospheric Science


  • Freeze-induced compaction
  • Iron solubility
  • Scanning electron microscopic analysis
  • Urban snow events


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