Albedo reduction caused by black carbon and dust accumulation: a quantitive model applied to the western margin of the Greenland ice sheet
T. Goelles1,2 and C. E. Bøggild31The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), Longyearbyen, Norway 2Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), Aas, Norway 3Arctic Technology Centre, Technical University of Denmark, Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
Received: 27 Jan 2015 – Accepted for review: 11 Feb 2015 – Discussion started: 26 Feb 2015
Abstract. Ice loss due to surface melt of the Greenland ice sheet has increased in recent years. Surface melt in the ablation zone is controlled by atmospheric temperature and surface albedo. Impurities such as mineral dust and black carbon darken the snow and ice surfaces and therefore reduce the surface albedo which leads to more absorbed solar energy and ultimately amplifying melt. These impurities accumulate on the ice surface both from atmospheric fallout and by melt-out of material which was enclosed in the snowpack or the ice compound. A general impurity accumulation model is developed and applied to calculate the surface albedo evolution at two locations in western Greenland. The model is forced either by regional climate model output or by a parameterisation for temperature and precipitation. Simulations identify mineral dust as the main contributor to impurity mass on ice where the dominating part originates from melt out of englacial dust. Daily reduction of impurities is in the range of one per-mille which leads to a residence time of decades on the ice surface. Therefore the impurities have a prolonged effect on surface melt once they are located on the ice surface. The currently englacially stored mineral dust and black carbon will effect future melt and sea level rise and can be studied with the presented model.
Goelles, T. and Bøggild, C. E.: Albedo reduction caused by black carbon and dust accumulation: a quantitive model applied to the western margin of the Greenland ice sheet, The Cryosphere Discuss., 9, 1345-1381, doi:10.5194/tcd-9-1345-2015, 2015.