Modulation of snow reflectance and snowmelt from Central Asian glaciers by anthropogenic black carbon

Deposited mineral dust and black carbon are known to reduce the albedo of snow and enhance melt. Here we estimate the contribution of anthropogenic black carbon (BC) to snowmelt in glacier accumulation zones of Central Asia based on in-situ measurements and modelling. Source apportionment suggests that more than 94% of the BC is emitted from mostly regional anthropogenic sources while the remaining contribution comes from natural biomass burning. Even though the annual deposition flux of mineral dust can be up to 20 times higher than that of BC, we find that anthropogenic BC causes the majority (60% on average) of snow darkening. This leads to summer snowmelt rate increases of up to 6.3% (7 cm a−1) on glaciers in three different mountain environments in Kyrgyzstan, based on albedo reduction and snowmelt models.

Published in:
Scientific Reports, 7, 1

 Record created 2020-09-04, last modified 2020-10-27

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