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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.

  13 Aug 2020

13 Aug 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Present-day radiative effect from radiation-absorbing aerosols in snow

Paolo Tuccella, Giovanni Pitari, Valentina Colaiuda, and Gabriele Curci Paolo Tuccella et al.
  • Departement of Physical and Chemical Sciences, University of L'Aquila, 67010 L'Aquila, Italy

Abstract. Black carbon (BC), brown carbon (BrC) and soil dust are the most radiation absorbing aerosols (RAA). When RAA are deposited on the snowpack, they lower the snow albedo, increasing the absorption of the solar radiation. The climatic impact associated to snow darkening induced by RAA is highly uncertain. In this work, a 5-years simulation with GEOS-Chem global chemistry and transport model was performed, in order to calculate the present-day radiative forcing (RF) of RAA in snow. RF was estimated taking simultaneously into account the presence of BC, BrC, and mineral soil dust in snow. Modelled BC and black carbon equivalent (BCE) mixing ratios in snow and the fraction of light absorption due to non-BC compounds (fnon-BC) were compared with worldwide observations. We showed as BC, BCE and fnon-BC, obtained from deposition and precipitation fluxes, reproduce the regional variability and order of magnitude of the observations. Global mean all sky total RAA, BC, BrC and dust snow RF are 0.068, 0.033, 0.0066, and 0.012 W/m2, respectively. At global scale, non-BC compounds account for 40 % of RAA snow RF, while anthropogenic RAAs contribute to the forcing for 56 %. With regard to non-BC compounds, the largest impact of BrC has been found during summer in the Arctic (+0.13 W/m2). In the middle latitudes of Asia, dust forcing in spring accounts for the 50 % (+0.24 W/m2) of the total RAAs RF. Uncertainties in absorbing optical properties, RAA mixing ratio in snow, snow grain dimension, and snow cover fraction result in an overall uncertainty of −50% / +61 %, −57 % / +183 %, −63 % / +112 %, and −49 % / +77 % in BC, BrC, dust and total RAAs snow RF, respectively.

Paolo Tuccella et al.

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Paolo Tuccella et al.

Paolo Tuccella et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The amount radiation-absorbing aerosols in snow was calculated with a global chemical and transport atmospheric model, validated with worldwide observations. The perturbation to snow albedo and related climatic impact is assessed. Resulting average radiative flux change in snow is 0.068 W/m2, with black carbon as major contributor (+0.033 W/m2), followed by dust (+0.012 W/m2) and brown carbon (+0.0066 W/m2). The impact is also characterized by significant seasonal and geographical variability.
The amount radiation-absorbing aerosols in snow was calculated with a global chemical and...