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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© 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.

Research article 09 Apr 2019

Research article | 09 Apr 2019

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

Influence of light absorbing particles on snow spectral irradiance profiles

François Tuzet1,2, Marie Dumont1, Laurent Arnaud2, Didier Voisin2, Maxim Lamare1, Fanny Larue2, Jesus Revuelto1, and Ghislain Picard2 François Tuzet et al.
  • 1Univ. Grenoble Alpes, Université de Toulouse, Météo France, CNRS, CNRM, Centre d'Étude de la Neige, Grenoble, France
  • 2UGA, CNRS, Institut des Geosciences de l'Environnement (IGE) UMR 5001, Grenoble, France

Abstract. Light Absorbing Particles (LAP) such as black carbon or mineral dust are some of the main drivers of snow radiative transfer. Small amounts of LAP significantly increase snowpack absorption in the visible wavelengths where ice absorption is particularly weak, impacting the surface energy budget of snow-covered areas. However, linking measurements of LAP concentration in snow to their actual radiative impact is a challenging issue which is not fully resolved. In the present paper, we point out a new method based on Spectral Irradiance Profile (SIP) measurements which makes it possible to identify the radiative impact of LAP on visible light extinction in homogeneous layers of the snowpack. From this impact on light extinction it is possible to infer LAP concentrations present in each layer using radiative transfer theory. This study relies on a unique dataset composed of 26 spectral irradiance profile measurements in the wavelength range 350–950 nm with concomitant profile measurements of snow physical properties and LAP concentrations, collected in the Alps over two snow seasons in winter and spring conditions. For 55 homogeneous snow layers identified in our dataset, the concentrations retrieved from SIP measurements are compared to chemical measurements of LAP concentrations. A good correlation is observed for measured concentrations higher than 5 ng g−1 (r2 = 0.74) despite a clear positive bias. The potential causes of this bias are discussed, underlining a strong dependence of our method to LAP optical properties and to the relationship between snow microstructure and snow optical properties used in the theory. Additional uncertainties such as artefacts in the measurement technique for SIP and chemical contents along with LAP absorption efficiency, may explain part of this bias. In addition, spectral information on LAP absorption can be retrieved from SIP measurements. We show that for layers containing a unique absorber, this absorber can be identified in some cases (e.g: mineral dust vs black carbon). We also observe an enhancement of light absorption between 350 and 650 nm in presence of liquid water in the snowpack which is discussed but not fully elucidated. A single SIP acquisition lasts approximately one minute and is hence much faster than collecting a profile of chemical measurements. With the recent advances in modelling LAP-snow interactions, our method could become an attractive alternative to estimate vertical profiles of LAP concentrations in snow.

François Tuzet et al.
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François Tuzet et al.
François Tuzet et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Here we present a novel method to estimate the impurity content (e.g. black carbon or mineral dust) in alpine snow based on measurements of light extinction profiles. This method is proposed as an alternative to chemical measurements, allowing rapid retrievals of vertical concentrations of impurities in the snowpack. In addition, the results provide a better understanding of the impact of impurities on visible light extinction in snow.
Here we present a novel method to estimate the impurity content (e.g. black carbon or mineral...