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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  29 Apr 2020

29 Apr 2020

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

Measurements and modeling of snow albedo at Alerce Glacier, Argentina: effects of volcanic ash, snow grain size and cloudiness

Julian Gelman Constantin1,2, Lucas Ruiz3, Gustavo Villarosa4,5, Valeria Outes4, Facundo N. Bajano1, Cenlin He6, Hector Bajano1, and Laura Dawidowski1 Julian Gelman Constantin et al.
  • 1División de Química Atmosférica, Gerencia de Química, Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica, Av General Paz 1499, San Martin, B1650KNA Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • 2Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), Argentina
  • 3IANIGLA, Gobierno de Mendoza, Universidad de Cuyo, CONICET, CCT-Mendoza, Mendoza, Argentina
  • 4Instituto Andino Patagónico de Tecnologías Biológicas y Geoambientales (IPATEC), CONICET-UNCo, Bariloche, Argentina
  • 5Centro Regional Universitario Bariloche, Universidad Nacional del Comahue, Bariloche, Argentina
  • 6Research Applications Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA

Abstract. The relevance of light absorbing impurities in snow albedo (and its effects in seasonal snow or glacier mass balance) have been under study for several decades. However, the effect of volcanic ash has been much less studied, and most articles studied only the effect of thick layers after direct deposition. There is also a knowledge gap in field measurements of seasonal snow and glaciers of the southern Andes, that only recently has started to be filled. We present here the first field measurements on Argentinian Andes, combined with albedo and mass balance modeling activities. Measured impurities content (1.1%ndash;30 000 mg/kg) varied abruptly in snow pits and snow/firn cores, due to high surface enrichment during ablation season and possibly local/regional wind driven resuspension and redeposition of dust and volcanic ash. In addition, we observed a high spatial hetereogeneity, due to seasonality, glacier topography and prevailing wind direction. Microscopical characterization showed that the major component was ash from recent Calbuco (2015) and Cordón Caulle (2011) volcanic eruption, with minor presence of mineral dust and Black Carbon. We also found a wide range of measured snow albedo (0.26 to 0.81), which reflected mainly the impurities content and the snow/firn grain size (due to aging). SNICAR model has been updated to model snow albedo taking into account the effect of cloudiness on incident radiation spectra, improving the match of modeled and measured values. We also ran sensitivity studies on the main measured parameters (impurities content and composition, snow grain size, layer thickness, etc) to assess which field measurements precision can improve the uncertainty of albedo modeling. Finally, we studied the impact of these albedo reductions in Alerce glacier using a spatially distributed surface mass-balance model. We found a large impact of albedo changes in glacier mass balance, and we estimated that the effect of observed ash concentrations can be as high as a 1.25 m w.e.decrease in the glacier-wide annual mass balance (due to a 34 % of increase in the melt during the ablation season).

Julian Gelman Constantin et al.

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Julian Gelman Constantin et al.

Julian Gelman Constantin et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
We present the results of two field campaigns and modeling activities on the impact of atmospheric particles on Alerce Glacier (Argentinean Andes). We found that volcanic ash remains at different snow layers several years after eruption, increasing light absorption on the glacier surface (with a minor contribution of soot). This leads to a 36 % higher annual glacier melting. We find remarkable that volcanoes eruptions in 2011 and 2015 have a relevant effect on the glacier even in 2016 and 2017.
We present the results of two field campaigns and modeling activities on the impact of...