The effect of snow/sea ice type on the response of albedo and light penetration depth (e-folding depth) to increasing black carbon
Abstract. The optical properties of snow/sea ice vary with age and by the processes they were formed, giving characteristic types of snow and sea ice. The response of albedo and light penetration depth (e-folding depth) to increasing mass ratio of black carbon is shown to depend on the snow and sea ice type and the thickness of the snow or sea ice. The response of albedo and e-folding depth of three different types of snow (cold polar snow, wind-packed snow and melting snow) and three sea ice (multi-year ice, first-year ice and melting sea ice) to increasing mass ratio of black carbon is calculated using a coupled atmosphere–snow/sea ice radiative-transfer model (TUV-snow), over the optical wavelengths of 300–800 nm. The snow and sea ice types are effectively defined by a scattering cross-section, density and asymmetry parameter. The relative change in albedo and e-folding depth of each of the three snow and three sea ice types with increasing mass ratio of black carbon is considered relative to a base case of 1 ng g−1 of black carbon. The relative response of each snow and sea ice type is intercompared to examine how different types of snow and sea ice respond relative to each other. The relative change in albedo of a melting snowpack is a factor of four more responsive to additions of black carbon compared to cold polar snow over a black carbon increase from 1 to 50 ng g−1, while the relative change in albedo of a melting sea ice is a factor of two more responsive to additions of black carbon compared to multi-year ice for the same increase in mass ratio of black carbon. The response of e-folding depth is effectively not dependent on snow/sea ice type. The albedo of sea ice is more responsive to increasing mass ratios of black carbon than snow.