Articles | Volume 8, issue 3
The Cryosphere, 8, 991–995, 2014

Special issue: Interactions between climate change and the Cryosphere: SVALI,...

The Cryosphere, 8, 991–995, 2014

Brief communication 26 May 2014

Brief communication | 26 May 2014

Brief communication: Light-absorbing impurities can reduce the density of melting snow

O. Meinander1, A. Kontu2, A. Virkkula1, A. Arola3, L. Backman1, P. Dagsson-Waldhauserová4,5, O. Järvinen6, T. Manninen1, J. Svensson1, G. de Leeuw1,6, and M. Leppäranta6 O. Meinander et al.
  • 1Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  • 2Arctic Research Center, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Sodankylä, Finland
  • 3Kuopio Unit, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Kuopio, Finland
  • 4University of Iceland, Department of Physics, Reykjavik, Iceland
  • 5Agricultural University of Iceland, Faculty of Environment, Hvanneyri, Iceland
  • 6Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Abstract. Climatic effects of black carbon (BC) deposition on snow have been proposed to result from reduced snow albedo and increased melt due to light-absorbing particles. In this study, we hypothesize that BC may decrease the liquid-water retention capacity of melting snow, and present our first data, where both the snow density and elemental carbon content were measured. In our experiments, artificially added light-absorbing impurities decreased the density of seasonally melting natural snow. No relationship was found in case of natural non-melting snow. We also suggest three possible processes that might lead to lower snow density.