Examining the atmospheric radiative and snow-darkening effects of black carbon and dust across the Rocky Mountains of the United States using WRF-Chem

Rahimi, Stefan; Liu, Xiaohong; Zhao, Chun; Lu, Zheng; Lebo, Zachary J.

The Weather Research and Forecasting model coupled with Chemistry (WRF-Chem) is run to quantify the in-snow and atmospheric radiative effects of black carbon (BC) and dust on a convective-allowing (4 km) grid for water year 2009 across a large area of the Rocky Mountains. The snow-darkening effect (SDE) due to the deposition of these light-absorbing particles (LAPs) on surface snow enhances snowmelt by 3 to 12 mm during late spring and early summer, effectuating surface runoff increases (decreases) prior to (after) June. Meanwhile, aerosol–radiation interactions (ARIs) associated with LAPs generally dim the surface from incoming solar energy, introducing an energy deficit at the surface and leading to snowpack preservation by 1 to 5 mm. Surface runoff alterations brought forth by LAP ARI are of opposite phase to those associated with LAP SDEs, and the BC SDE drives a majority of the surface energy and hydrological perturbations. More generally, changes in snow water equivalent (SWE) brought forth by LAP effects are more a result of perturbations to the surface energy budget rather than changes in precipitation amount or type. It is also found that perturbations to the surface energy budget by dust ARI can differ in sign from those of BC ARI, with the former being positive, enhancing snow melting, and changing runoff.

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Rahimi, Stefan / Liu, Xiaohong / Zhao, Chun / et al: Examining the atmospheric radiative and snow-darkening effects of black carbon and dust across the Rocky Mountains of the United States using WRF-Chem. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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