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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 24 Jul 2019

Submitted as: research article | 24 Jul 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Metamorphism of Arctic marine snow during the melt season. Impact on albedo

Gauthier Verin1,2, Florent Dominé2, Marcel Babin2, Ghislain Picard1, and Laurent Arnaud1 Gauthier Verin et al.
  • 1UGA, CNRS, Institut des Géosciences de l’Environnement (IGE), UMR 5001, Grenoble, F-38041, France
  • 2Takuvik Joint International Laboratory, Laval University (Canada) – CNRS (France), Département de biologie et Québec-Océan, Université Laval, Québec, Québec G1V 0A6, Canada

Abstract. The energy budget of Arctic sea ice is strongly affected by the snow cover. Intensive sampling of snow properties was conducted near Qikiqtarjuak in Baffin Bay on typical landfast sea ice during two melt seasons in 2015 and 2016. The sampling included stratigraphy, vertical profiles of snow specific surface area (SSA), density and surface spectral albedo. Both seasons feature four main phases: I) dry snow cover, II) surface melting, III) ripe snowpack and IV) melt pond formation. Each of them was characterized by distinctive physical and optical properties. Highest SSA of 49.3 m2 kg−1 was measured during phase I on surface windslab together with a high broadband albedo of 0.87. The next phase was marked by alternative episodes of surface melting which dramatically decreased the SSA below 3 m2 kg−1 and episodes of snowfall reestablishing the pre-melt conditions. Albedo was highly time variable especially in the near-infrared with minimum values around 0.45 at 1000 nm. At some point, the melt progressed leading to a fully ripe snowpack composed of clustered rounded grains in phase III. Albedo began to decrease in the visible as snow thickness decreased but remained steady at longer wavelengths. Moreover, its spatial variability clearly appeared for the first time following snow depth heterogeneity. The impacts on albedo of both snow SSA and thickness were quantitatively investigated using a radiative transfer model. Comparisons between albedo measurements and simulations show that our data on snow physical properties are relevant for radiative transfer modeling. They also point out to the importance of the properties of the very surface snow layer for albedo computation, especially during phase II when several distinctive layers of snow superimposed following snowfalls, melt or diurnal cycles.

Gauthier Verin et al.
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Gauthier Verin et al.
Gauthier Verin et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The results of two sampling campaigns conducted on landfast sea ice in Baffin Bay show that the melt season can be divided into four main phases during which surface albedo and snow properties show distinct signatures. A radiative transfer model was used to successfully reconstruct the albedo from snow properties. This modeling work highlights that only little changes on the very surface of the snowpack are able to dramatically change the albedo, a key element for the energy budget of sea ice.
The results of two sampling campaigns conducted on landfast sea ice in Baffin Bay show that the...