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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-87
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-87
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  17 Apr 2020

17 Apr 2020

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Seasonal and Interannual Variability of Melt-Season Albedo at Haig Glacier, Canadian Rocky Mountains

Shawn J. Marshall1,2 and Kristina Miller1 Shawn J. Marshall and Kristina Miller
  • 1Department of Geography, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, T2N 1N4 Canada
  • 2Environment and Climate Change Canada, Gatineau, Quebec, Canada

Abstract. In situ observations of summer albedo are presented for the period 2002–2017 from Haig Glacier in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The observations provide insight into the seasonal evolution and interannual variability of snow and ice albedo, including the effects of summer snowfall, the decay of snow albedo through the melt season, and the potential short-term impacts of regional wildfire activity on ice albedo reductions. Mean summer albedo (±1σ) recorded at an automatic weather station in the upper ablation zone of the glacier was αS = 0.55 ± 0.07 over this period, with no evidence of long-term albedo trends. Each summer the surface conditions at the weather station undergo a transition from a dry, reflective springsnowpack (αS ∼ 0.8), to a wet, homogeneous mid-summer snowpack (αS ∼ 0.5), to exposed, impurity-rich glacier ice, with ameasured albedo of 0.21 ± 0.06 over the study period. The ice albedo drops to ~ 0.1 during years of intense regional wildfire activity such as 2003 and 2017, but it recovers from this in subsequent years. Summer snowfall events have a significant influence on albedo, and a stochastic parameterization of these events is shown to improve modelled estimates of summer albedo and mass balance. Modifications to conventional degree-day melt factors are also suggested, to better capture the effects of seasonal albedo evolution in climate, hydrology, and glacier mass balance models that use temperature index or positive-degree day methods.

Shawn J. Marshall and Kristina Miller

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Shawn J. Marshall and Kristina Miller

Shawn J. Marshall and Kristina Miller

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Latest update: 04 Aug 2020
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Short summary
Surface albedo measurements from 2002–2017 from Haig Glacier in the Canadian Rockies provide no evidence of long-term trends (i.e., the glacier does not appear to be darkening), but there are large variations in albedo over the melt season and from year to year. The glacier ice is exceptionally dark in association with forest fire fallout, but is effectively cleansed by meltwater or rainfall. Summer snowfall plays an important role in refreshing the glacier surface and reducing summer melt.
Surface albedo measurements from 2002–2017 from Haig Glacier in the Canadian Rockies provide no...
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