10 Dec 2021

10 Dec 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Measurement of Light absorbing particles in surface snow of central and western Himalayan glaciers: spatial variability, radiative impacts, and potential source regions

Chaman Gul1,2,3,4, Shichang Kang1,4, Siva Praveen Puppala2, Xiaokang Wu5, Cenlin He6, Yangyang Xu5, Inka Koch1, Sher Muhammad1, Rajesh Kumar6, and Getachew Dubache3 Chaman Gul et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Cryosphere Science, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 73000, China
  • 2International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), G.P.O. Box 3226, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • 3Reading Academy, Nanjing University of Information Sciences and Technology 219 Ningliu Road, Nanjing, Jiangsu, 210044 China
  • 4University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 5Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA
  • 6Research Applications Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO 80301, USA

Abstract. We collected surface snow samples from three different glaciers: Yala, Thana, and Sachin in the central and western Himalayas to understand the spatial variability and radiative impacts of light-absorbing particles. The Yala and Thana glaciers in Nepal and Bhutan, respectively, were selected to represent the central Himalayas. The Sachin glacier in Pakistan was selected to represent the western Himalayas. The samples were collected during the pre-and post-monsoon seasons of the year 2016. The samples were analysed for black carbon (BC) and water-insoluble organic carbon (OC) through the thermal optical method. The average mass concentrations (BC 2381.39 ng g−1; OC 3896.00 ng g−1; dust 101.05 µg g−1) in the western Himalaya (Sachin glacier) were quite higher compared to the mass concentrations (BC 357.93 ng g−1, OC 903.86 ng g−1, dust 21.95 µg g−1) at the central Himalaya (Yala glacier). The difference in mass concentration may be due to the difference in elevation, snow age, local pollution sources, and difference in meteorological conditions. BC in surface snow was also estimated through WRF-Chem simulations at the three glacier sites during the sampling periods. Simulations reasonably capture the spatial and seasonal patterns of the observed BC in snow but with a relatively smaller magnitude. Absolute snow albedo was estimated through the Snow, Ice, and Aerosol Radiation (SNICAR) model. The absolute snow albedo reduction was ranging between 0.48 % (Thana glacier during September) to 24 % (Sachin glacier during May) due to BC and 0.13 % (Yala glacier during September) to 5 % (Sachin glacier during May) due to dust. The instantaneous radiative forcing due to BC and dust was estimated in the range of 0 to 96.48 W m−2 and 0 to 25 W m−2 respectively. The lowest and highest albedo reduction and radiative forcing were observed in central and western Himalayan glaciers, respectively. The potential source regions of the deposited pollutants were inferred using WRF-Chem tagged-tracer simulations. Selected glaciers in the western Himalayas were mostly affected by long-range transport from the Middle East and Central Asia; however, the central Himalayan glaciers were mainly affected by local and South Asia emissions (from Nepal, India, and China) especially during the pre-monsoon season. Overall, South Asia and West Asia were the main contributing source regions of pollutants.

Chaman Gul et al.

Status: open (until 03 Feb 2022)

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Chaman Gul et al.


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Short summary
This work aims to understand concentrations, spatial variability, and potential source regions of light-absorbing impurities (black carbon aerosols, dust particles, and organic carbon) in the surface snow of central and western Himalayan glaciers and their impact on snow albedo, and radiative forcing.