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Geological Sciences

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Light absorbing particles (LAPs) include black carbon (BC) and mineral dust and are of interest due to their positive radiative forcing and contribution to albedo reductions and snow and glacier melt. This study documents historic BC and dust deposition as well as their effect on albedo on South Cascade Glacier (SCG) in Washington State (USA) through the analysis of a 158‐m (139.5‐m water equivalent [w.e.]) ice core extracted in 1994 and spanning the period 1840–1991. Peak BC deposition occurred between 1940 and 1960, when median BC concentrations were 16 times higher than background, likely dominated by domestic coal and forest fire emissions. Post 1960 BC concentrations decrease, followed by an increase from 1977 to 1991 due to melt consolidation and higher emissions. Differences between the SCG record and BC emission inventories, as well as ice core records from other regions, highlight regional differences in the timing of anthropogenic and biomass BC emissions. Dust deposition on SCG is dominated by local sources and is variable throughout the record. Albedo reductions from LAP are dominated by dust deposition, except during high BC deposition events from forest fires and during 1940–1960 when BC and dust similarly contribute to albedo reductions. This study furthers understanding of the factors contributing to historical snowmelt and glacier retreat in the Cascades and demonstrates that ice cores retrieved from temperate glaciers have the potential to provide valuable records of LAP deposition.


This article was originally published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.


Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres


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