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Remote sensing of light-absorbing particles (LAPs), or dark colored impurities, such as black carbon (BC) and dust on snow, is a key remaining challenge in cryospheric surface characterization and application to snow, ice, and climate models. We present a quantitative data set of in situ snow reflectance, measured and modeled albedo, and BC and trace element concentrations from clean to heavily fossil fuel emission contaminated snow near South Pole, Antarctica. Over 380 snow reflectance spectra (350–2500 nm) and 28 surface snow samples were collected at seven distinct sites in the austral summer season of 2014–2015. Snow samples were analyzed for BC concentration via a single particle soot photometer and for trace element concentration via an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer. Snow impurity concentrations ranged from 0.14 to 7000 part per billion (ppb) BC, 9.5 to 1200 ppb sulfur, 0.19 to 660 ppb iron, 0.013 to 1.9 ppb chromium, 0.13 to 120 ppb copper, 0.63 to 6.3 ppb zinc, 0.45 to 82 parts per trillion (ppt) arsenic, 0.0028 to 6.1 ppb cadmium, 0.062 to 22 ppb barium, and 0.0044 to 6.2 ppb lead. Broadband visible to shortwave infrared albedo ranged from 0.85 in pristine snow to 0.62 in contaminated snow. LAP radiative forcing, the enhanced surface absorption due to BC and trace elements, spanned from <1 W m–2 for clean snow to ~70 W m–2 for snow with high BC and trace element content. Measured snow reflectance differed from modeled snow albedo due to specific impurity-dependent absorption features, which we recommend be further studied and improved in snow albedo models.
Casey, K. A., S. D. Kaspari, S. M. Skiles, K. Kreutz, and M. J. Handley (2017), The spectral and chemical measurement of pollutants on snow near South Pole, Antarctica, J. Geophys. Res. Atmos., 122, 6592–6610, doi:10.1002/2016JD026418.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
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