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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  21 Oct 2020

21 Oct 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Deposition of light-absorbing particles in glacier snow of the Sunderdhunga Valley, the southern forefront of Central Himalaya

Jonas Svensson1,2, Johan Ström3, Henri Honkonen4, Eija Asmi1, Nathaniel B. Dkhar5, Shresth Tayal5,6, Ved P. Sharma5,6, Rakesh Hooda1, Matti Leppäranta4, Hans-Werner Jacobi2, Heikki Lihavainen7,1, and Antti Hyvärinen1 Jonas Svensson et al.
  • 1Atmospheric Composition Research, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  • 2Université Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, IRD, INP-G, IGE, Grenoble, France
  • 3Department of Environmental Science, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  • 4Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research, Faculty of Science, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  • 5The Energy and Resource Institute, (TERI), New Delhi, India
  • 6TERI School of Advanced Studies (TERI SAS), New Delhi, India
  • 7Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing System, Longyearbyen, Norway

Abstract. Anthropogenic activities on the Indo-Gangetic Plain emit vast amounts of light-absorbing particles (LAP) into the atmosphere, modifying the atmospheric radiation scheme. With transport to the nearby Himalayan mountains and deposition to its surfaces the particles contribute to glacier and snowmelt via darkening of the highly reflective snow. The Central Himalayas have been identified as a region where LAP are especially pronounced in glacier snow, but still remain a region where measurements of LAP in the snow are scarce. Here we study the deposition of LAP in five snow pits sampled in 2016 (and one from 2015) from two glaciers in the Sunderdhunga valley, state of Uttarakhand, India, Central Himalaya. The snow pits display a distinct melt layer interleaved by younger snow above, and older snow below. The LAP exhibit a large vertical distribution in these different snow layers. For the analyzed elemental carbon (EC), the younger snow layers in the different pits show similarities, and can be characterized by a deposition constant of about 50 µg m−2 mm−1 while the old snow layers also indicate similar values, and can be described with deposition constant of roughly 150 µg m−2 mm−1. The melt layer, contrarily, display no similar trends between the pits. Instead, it is characterized by very high amounts of LAP, and differ in orders of magnitude for concentration between the pits. The melt layer is likely a result of strong melting that took place during the summers of 2015 and 2016. The mineral dust fractional absorption is slightly below 50 % for the young and old snow layer, whereas in the melt layer is the dominating light absorbing constituent, thus, highlighting the importance of dust in the region. Our results indicate the problems with complex topography in the Himalaya, but nonetheless, can be useful in large-scale assessments of LAP in Himalayan snow.

Jonas Svensson et al.

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Jonas Svensson et al.

Jonas Svensson et al.


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Short summary
Light-absorbing particles specifically affect snow melt in the Himalaya. Through measurements of the constituents in glacier snow pits from Indian Himalaya our investigations show that different snow layers display striking similarities. These similarities can be characterized by a deposition constant. Our results further indicate that mineral dust can be responsible for the majority of light absorption in the snow in this part of the Himalaya.
Light-absorbing particles specifically affect snow melt in the Himalaya. Through measurements of...