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Black carbon (BC) is an important climate-forcing agent that affects snow albedo. In this work, we present a record of refractory black carbon (rBC) variability, measured from a 20m deep snow and firn core drilled in West Antarctica (79°55’34.600” S, 94°21’13.3”W, 2122m above sea level) during the 2014–2015 austral summer. This is the highest elevation rBC record from West Antarctica. The core was analyzed using the Single Particle Soot Photometer (SP2) coupled to a CETAC Marin-5 nebulizer. Results show a well-defined seasonality with geometric mean concentrations of 0.015 μg L-1 for the wet season (austral summer–fall) and 0.057 μg L-1 for the dry season (austral winter–spring). The core was dated to 47 years (1968–2015) using rBC seasonality as the main parameter, along with sodium (Na), sulfur (S) and strontium (Sr) variations. The annual rBC concentration geometric mean was 0.03 μg L-1, the lowest of all rBC cores in Antarctica referenced in this work, while the annual rBC flux was 6.25 μgm-2 a-1, the lowest flux in West Antarctica rBC records. No long-term trend was observed. Snow albedo reductions at the site due to BC were simulated using SNICAR online and found to be insignificant (-0.48 %) compared to clean snow. Fire spot inventory and BC emission estimates from the Southern Hemisphere suggest Australia and Southern Hemisphere South America as the most probable emission sources of BC to the drilling site, whereas HYSPLIT model particle transport simulations from 1968 to 2015 support Australia and New Zealand as rBC sources, with limited contributions from South America. Spectral analysis (REDFIT method) of the BC record showed cycles related to the Antarctic Oscillation (AAO) and to El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), but cycles in common with the Amundsen Sea Low (ASL) were not detected. Correlation of rBC records in Antarctica with snow accumulation, elevation and distance to the sea suggests rBC transport to East Antarctica is different from transport to West Antarctica.


This article was originally published in The Cryosphere. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.


The Cryosphere

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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