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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2017-111
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
14 Jul 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).
Black carbon and mineral dust in snow cover on the Third Pole
Yulan Zhang1, Shichang Kang1,2, Michael Sprenger3, Zhiyuan Cong2, Tanguang Gao4, Chaoliu Li2, Shu Tao5, Xiaofei Li1, Xinyue Zhong1, Min Xu1, Wenjun Meng5, and Mika Sillanpää6 1State key laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
2CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
3Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland
4Key Laboratory of Western China's Environmental System (Ministry of Education), College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
5Department of Environmental Science, Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes, Peking University, Beijing, China
6Laboratory of Green Chemistry, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Mikkeli 50130, Finland
Abstract. Light-absorbing impurities (including black carbon, organic carbon, and mineral dust) deposited on snow can reduce surface albedo and contribute to the near-worldwide melting of snow cover and ice. This study found that the black carbon, organic carbon, and dust concentrations in snow cover ranged generally from 202–17 468 ng g−1, 491–13 880 ng g−1, and 22–846 µg g−1, respectively, with higher concentrations in the central to northern areas of the Third Pole region (referred to by scientists also as the Tibetan Plateau and its surrounding mountains). Footprint analyses suggested that the northern Third Pole was influenced mainly by air masses from Central Asia with some Euro-Asia influence; air masses in the central and Himalayan region originated mainly from Central and South Asia. The open burning-sourced black carbon contributions decreased from ~ 50 % in the southern Third Pole region to ~ 30 % in the northern Third Pole region. The contribution of black carbon and dust to snow albedo reduction reached approximately 37 % and 15 %, respectively. The effect of black carbon and dust reduced the average snow cover duration by 3.1 ± 0.1 days to 4.4 ± 0.2 days. Meanwhile, the black carbon and dust had an import implication for snowmelt water loss over the Third Pole region. Findings indicate that the impacts of black carbon and mineral dust need to be properly accounted for in future regional climate projections, particularly in the high-altitude cryosphere.

Citation: Zhang, Y., Kang, S., Sprenger, M., Cong, Z., Gao, T., Li, C., Tao, S., Li, X., Zhong, X., Xu, M., Meng, W., and Sillanpää, M.: Black carbon and mineral dust in snow cover on the Third Pole, The Cryosphere Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2017-111, in review, 2017.
Yulan Zhang et al.
Yulan Zhang et al.
Yulan Zhang et al.

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Short summary
Light-absorbing impurities deposited on snow can reduce surface albedo and contribute to the near-worldwide melting of snowpack and ice. This study focused on the black carbon and mineral dust in snow cover on the Third Pole region. We discussed their concentrations, distributions, possible sources, and albedo reduction and radiative forcing. Findings indicated that the impacts of black carbon and mineral dust needed to be properly accounted for in future regional climate projections.
Light-absorbing impurities deposited on snow can reduce surface albedo and contribute to the...
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