1Institute of Applied Physics of the Russian Academy of Science, 46 Ulyanov Str., 603950, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
2Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod, 23 Gagarin Ave., 603950, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
3Institute of Chemistry of High-Purity Substances of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 49 Tropinin St., 603950, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
4Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Am Handelshafen 12, 27570 Bremerhaven, Germany
Abstract. Laboratory studies have been carried out with the aim to improve our understanding of physicochemical processes which take place at the water ice/air interface initiated by solar irradiation with a wavelength of 121.6 nm. It was intended to mimic the processes of ice particles characteristic of Noctilucent Clouds (NLCs). The experimental set-up used includes a high-vacuum chamber, a gas handling system, a cryostat with temperature controller, an FTIR spectrometer, a vacuum ultraviolet hydrogen lamp, and a microwave generator. We report the first results of measurements of the absolute photodesorption rate (loss of substance due to the escape of photoproducts into gas phase) from thin (20–100 nm) water ice samples kept in the temperature range of 120–150 K. The obtained results show that a flow of photoproducts into the gas phase is considerably lower than presumed in the recent study by Murray and Plane (2005). The experiments indicate that almost all photoproducts remain in the solid phase, and the principal chemical reaction between them is the recombination reaction H + OH → H2O which is evidently very fast. This means that direct photolysis of mesospheric ice particles seems to have no significant impact on the gas phase chemistry of the upper mesosphere.