Articles | Volume 8, issue 21
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 8, 6551–6563, 2008
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-8-6551-2008

Special issue: One century of solar ultraviolet research

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 8, 6551–6563, 2008
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-8-6551-2008

  14 Nov 2008

14 Nov 2008

Diurnal variations in the UV albedo of arctic snow

O. Meinander1, A. Kontu1, K. Lakkala1, A. Heikkilä1, L. Ylianttila2, and M. Toikka3 O. Meinander et al.
  • 1Finnish Meteorological Institute, P.O. BOX 503, 00101 Helsinki, Finland
  • 2Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, P.O. Box 14, 00881 Helsinki, Finland
  • 3Toikka Engineering Ltd., Hannuntie 18, 02360 Espoo, Finland

Abstract. The relevance of snow for climate studies is based on its physical properties, such as high surface reflectivity. Surface ultraviolet (UV) albedo is an essential parameter for various applications based on radiative transfer modeling. Here, new continuous measurements of the local UV albedo of natural Arctic snow were made at Sodankylä (67°22'N, 26°39'E, 179 m a.s.l.) during the spring of 2007. The data were logged at 1-min intervals. The accumulation of snow was up to 68 cm. The surface layer thickness varied from 0.5 to 35 cm with the snow grain size between 0.2 and 2.5 mm. The midday erythemally weighted UV albedo ranged from 0.6 to 0.8 in the accumulation period, and from 0.5 to 0.7 during melting. During the snow melt period, under cases of an almost clear sky and variable cloudiness, an unexpected diurnal decrease of 0.05 in albedo soon after midday, and recovery thereafter, was detected. This diurnal decrease in albedo was found to be asymmetric with respect to solar midday, thus indicating a change in the properties of the snow. Independent UV albedo results with two different types of instruments confirm these findings. The measured temperature of the snow surface was below 0°C on the following mornings. Hence, the reversible diurnal change, evident for ~1–2 h, could be explained by the daily metamorphosis of the surface of the snowpack, in which the temperature of the surface increases, melting some of the snow to liquid water, after which the surface freezes again.

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