Black carbon concentrations from a Tibetan Plateau ice core spanning 1843–1982: recent increases due to emissions and glacier melt
M. Jenkins1, S. Kaspari1, S. Kang2,3, B. Grigholm4, and P. A. Mayewski41Department of Geological Sciences, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA, USA 2Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environment Changes and Surface Processes, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Beijing 100101, China 3State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, CAS, Lanzhou 730000, China 4Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, Orono, ME, USA
Received: 23 Aug 2013 – Accepted for review: 13 Sep 2013 – Discussion started: 01 Oct 2013
Abstract. Black carbon (BC) deposited on snow and glacier surfaces can reduce albedo and lead to accelerated melt. An ice core recovered from Guoqu glacier on Mt. Geladaindong and analyzed using a Single Particle Soot Photometer provides the first long-term (1843–1982) record of BC concentrations from the Central Tibetan Plateau. The highest concentrations are observed from 1975–1982, which corresponds to a 2.0-fold and 2.4-fold increase in average and median values, respectively, relative to 1843–1940. BC concentrations post-1940 are also elevated relative to the earlier portion of the record. Causes for the higher BC concentrations include increased regional BC emissions and subsequent deposition, and melt induced enrichment of BC, with the melt potentially accelerated due to the presence of BC at the glacier surface. A qualitative comparison of the BC and Fe (used as a dust proxy) records suggests that if changes in the concentrations of absorbing impurities at the glacier surface have influenced recent glacial melt, the melt may be due to the presence of BC rather than dust. Guoqu glacier has received no net ice accumulation since the 1980s, and is a potential example of a glacier where an increase in the equilibrium line altitude is exposing buried high impurity layers. That BC concentrations in the uppermost layers of the Geladaindong ice core are not substantially higher relative to deeper in the ice core suggests that some of the BC that must have been deposited on Guoqu glacier via wet or dry deposition between 1983 and 2005 has been removed from the surface of the glacier, potentially via supraglacial or englacial meltwater.
Jenkins, M., Kaspari, S., Kang, S., Grigholm, B., and Mayewski, P. A.: Black carbon concentrations from a Tibetan Plateau ice core spanning 1843–1982: recent increases due to emissions and glacier melt, The Cryosphere Discuss., 7, 4855-4880, doi:10.5194/tcd-7-4855-2013, 2013.