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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-263
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-263
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 29 Nov 2019

Submitted as: research article | 29 Nov 2019

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

Temporal changes in snow albedo, including the possible effects of red algal growth, in northwest Greenland, simulated with a physically based snow albedo model

Yukihiko Onuma1, Nozomu Takeuchi2, Sota Tanaka2, Naoko Nagatsuka3, Masashi Niwano4, and Teruo Aoki3,4 Yukihiko Onuma et al.
  • 1Institute of Industrial Science, University of Tokyo, Chiba, 277-8574, Japan
  • 2Graduate School of Science, Chiba University, Chiba, 263-8522, Japan
  • 3National Institute of Polar Research, Tokyo, 190-8518, Japan
  • 4Meteorological Research Institute, Japan Meteorological Agency, Tsukuba, 305-0052, Japan

Abstract. Surface albedo of snow and ice is substantially reduced by inorganic impurities, such as aeolian mineral dust (MD) and black carbon (BC), and also by organic impurities, such as microbes that live in the snow. In this paper, we present the temporal changes of surface albedo, snow grain size, MD, BC, and snow algal cell concentration observed on a snowpack in northwest Greenland during the ablation season of 2014 and our attempt to reproduce the changes in albedo with a physically based snow albedo model. We also attempt to reproduce the effects of inorganic impurities and the red snow algae (Chlamydomonas nivalis) on albedo. Concentrations of MD and red snow algae in the surface snow were found to increase in early August, while snow grain size and BC were found to not significantly change throughout the ablation season. Surface albedo was found to have decreased by 0.08 from late July to early August. The albedo simulated by the model agreed with the albedo observed during the study period. However, red snow algae exerted little effect on surface albedo in early August. This is probably owing to the abundance of smaller cells (4.9 × 104 cells L^-1) when compared with the cell abundance of typical red algal snow (~ 108 cells L−1). The simulation of snow albedo until the end of the melting season, with an algal growth model, revealed that the reduction in albedo attribute to red algae could equal 0.004, out of a total reduction of 0.102 arising from the three impurities on a snowpack in northwest Greenland. Finally, we conducted scenario simulations using the snow albedo model, coupled with the algal growth model, in order to simulate the possible effects of red algal blooming on snow albedo under warm conditions in northwest Greenland. The result suggests that albedo reduction by red snow algal growth under warm conditions (surface snow temperature of +1.5 °C) reached 0.04, equivalent to a radiative forcing of 7.5 W m−2 during the ablation season of 2014. This coupled albedo model has the potential to dynamically simulate snow albedo, including the effect of organic and inorganic impurities, leading to proper estimates of the surface albedo of snow cover in Greenland.

Yukihiko Onuma et al.
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Short summary
Surface snow albedo is substantially reduced by organic impurities, such as microbes that live in the snow. We present the temporal changes of surface albedo, snow grain size, inorganic, and organic impurities observed on a snowpack in northwest Greenland during summer and our attempt to reproduce the changes in albedo with a physically based snow albedo model coupled with a algal growth model. To our knowledge, this is the first report proposing such coupled albedo model on Greenland Glacier.
Surface snow albedo is substantially reduced by organic impurities, such as microbes that live...
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