Articles | Volume 8, issue 3
Brief communication
26 May 2014
Brief communication |  | 26 May 2014

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

O. Meinander, A. Kontu, A. Virkkula, A. Arola, L. Backman, P. Dagsson-Waldhauserová, O. Järvinen, T. Manninen, J. Svensson, G. de Leeuw, and M. Leppäranta

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.