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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2017-186
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
12 Jul 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).
Contribution of dust and elemental carbon to the reduction of snow albedo in the Indian Himalaya and the Finnish Arctic
Jonas Svensson1, Johan Ström2, Niku Kivekäs1, Nathaniel B. Dkhar3,4, Shresth Tayal3,4, Ved P. Sharma3,4, Arttu Jutila5, John Backman1, Aki Virkkula1, Meri Ruppel6, Antti Hyvärinen7, Anna Kontu8, Henna-Reetta Hannula8, Matti Leppäranta5, Rakesh K. Hooda1,3, Atte Korhola6, Eija Asmi1, and Heikki Lihavainen1 1Atmospheric Composition Research, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
2Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
3The Energy and Resource Institute, New Delhi, India
4The Energy and Resource Institute University, New Delhi, India
5Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
6Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
7Expert Services, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
8Arctic Research Center, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Sodankylä, Finland
Abstract. Light-absorbing impurities (LAI) have the potential to substantially affect snow albedo, with subsequent changes on snow melt and impact on climate. To more accurately quantify the snow albedo, the contribution from different LAI needs to be assessed. Here we estimate the main LAI components, elemental carbon (EC) (as a proxy for black carbon) and mineral dust in snow from Indian Himalaya and compared it to snow samples from Arctic Finland. The impurities are collected onto quartz filters and are analyzed thermal-optically for EC, as well as with an additional optical measurement to estimate the light-absorption of dust separately on the filters. Laboratory tests were conducted using substrates containing soot and mineral particles specially prepared to test the experimental setup. Analyzed ambient snow samples show EC concentrations that are in the same range as presented by previous research, for each respective region. In terms of the mass absorption cross section (MAC) our ambient EC had surprisingly about half of the MAC value compared to our laboratory standard EC (chimney soot), suggesting a less light absorptive EC in the snow, which has consequences for the snow albedo reduction caused by EC. In the Himalayan samples, larger contributions by dust (in the range of 50 % or greater for the light absorption caused by the LAI) highlighted the importance of dust acting as a light absorber in the snow. Moreover, EC concentrations in the Indian samples, acquired from a 120 cm deep snow pit (covering possibly the last five years of snow fall), suggest an increase in both EC and dust, while at the same time there is a tendency for a reduction in the MAC value with snow depth. This work emphasizes the complexity in determining the snow albedo, showing that LAI concentrations alone might not be sufficient, but additional transient effects on the light-absorbing properties of the EC need to be considered and studied in the snow. Equally imperative is to confirm the spatial and temporal representativeness of these data by comparing data from several and longer pits explored at the same time.

Citation: Svensson, J., Ström, J., Kivekäs, N., Dkhar, N. B., Tayal, S., Sharma, V. P., Jutila, A., Backman, J., Virkkula, A., Ruppel, M., Hyvärinen, A., Kontu, A., Hannula, H.-R., Leppäranta, M., Hooda, R. K., Korhola, A., Asmi, E., and Lihavainen, H.: Contribution of dust and elemental carbon to the reduction of snow albedo in the Indian Himalaya and the Finnish Arctic, Atmos. Meas. Tech. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2017-186, in review, 2017.
Jonas Svensson et al.
Jonas Svensson et al.
Jonas Svensson et al.

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Short summary
Receding glaciers in the Himalaya is of concern. Here we present measurements of light-absorbing impurities, known to contribute to the ongoing glacier decrease, in snow from Indian Himalaya and compare them to snow samples from the Finnish Arctic. The soot particles in the snow are shown to have a less light absorbing efficiency, possibly affecting their radiative forcing potential in the snow. Further, dust influence the snow in the Himalaya to a much greater extent than in Finland.
Receding glaciers in the Himalaya is of concern. Here we present measurements of light-absorbing...
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