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Department or Administrative Unit

Geological Sciences

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Characterizing black carbon (BC) concentrations in the seasonal snowpack is of interest because BC deposition on snow can reduce albedo and accelerate melt. In Washington State, USA snowmelt from the seasonal snowpack provides an important source of water resources, but minimal work has been done characterizing BC concentrations in snow in this region. BC concentrations in snow were monitored over two winters (2012 and 2013) at Tronsen Meadow, located near Blewett Pass in the eastern Cascade Mountains in Central Washington, to characterize spatial and temporal variations in BC concentrations, and the processes affecting BC concentrations in the snowpack. BC concentrations were measured using a Single Particle Soot Photometer. Snowpit BC concentrations at spatial scales ranging from centimeter to 100m scales were fairly homogenous during the accumulation season, with greater spatial variability during the melt season due to variable melt patterns. BC concentrations in snow increased in late winter-spring due to an increase in atmospheric BC concentrations and trapping of BC on the snow surface during melt. However, during a period of intense melt in 2013 BC concentrations decreased, likely caused by meltwater scavenging. In summer 2012 the Table Mountain forest fire burned adjacent to the study site, and BC concentrations in the snowpack in 2013 were far higher than in previous years, with charred trees postfire the likely source of the elevated BC.


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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