Enhanced light absorption and reduced snow albedo due to internally mixed mineral dust in grains of snow

Shi, Tenglong; Cui, Jiecan; Chen, Yang; Zhou, Yue; Pu, Wei; Xu, Xuanye; Chen, Quanliang; Zhang, Xuelei; Wang, Xin

Mineral dust is a major light-absorbing aerosol, which can significantly reduce snow albedo and accelerate snow/glacier melting via wet and dry deposition on snow. In this study, three scenarios of internal mixing of dust in ice grains were analyzed theoretically by combining asymptotic radiative transfer theory and (core–shell) Mie theory to evaluate the effects on absorption coefficient and albedo of the semi-infinite snowpack consisting of spherical snow grains. In general, snow albedo was substantially reduced at wavelengths of inline-formula<1.0inline-formulaµm by internal dust–snow mixing, with stronger reductions at higher dust concentrations and larger snow grain sizes. Moreover, calculations showed that a nonuniform distribution of dust in snow grains can lead to significant differences in the values of the absorption coefficient and albedo of dust-contaminated snowpack at visible wavelengths relative to a uniform dust distribution in snow grains. Finally, using comprehensive in situ measurements across the Northern Hemisphere, we found that broadband snow albedo was further reduced by 5.2 % and 9.1 % due to the effects of internal dust–snow mixing on the Tibetan Plateau and North American mountains. This was higher than the reduction in snow albedo caused by black carbon in snow over most North American and Arctic regions. Our results suggest that significant dust–snow internal mixing is important for the melting and retreat of Tibetan glaciers and North American mountain snowpack.

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Shi, Tenglong / Cui, Jiecan / Chen, Yang / et al: Enhanced light absorption and reduced snow albedo due to internally mixed mineral dust in grains of snow. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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