2024
  • Non-ICIMOD publication

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Measured black carbon deposition over the central Himalayan glaciers: Concentrations in surface snow and impact on snow albedo reduction

  • Chaman Gul
  • Cenlin He
  • Shichang Kang
  • Yangyang Xu
  • Xiaokang Wu
  • Inka Koch
  • Joel Barker
  • Rajesh Kumar
  • Rahat Ullah
  • Shah Faisal
  • Siva Praveen Puppala
  • Summary

Deposition of ambient black carbon (BC) aerosols over snow-covered areas reduces surface albedo and accelerates snowmelt. Based on in-situ atmospheric BC data and the WRF-Chem model, we estimated the dry and wet deposition of BC over the Yala glacier of the central Himalayan region in Nepal during 2016–2018. The maximum and minimum BC dry deposition was reported in pre- and post-monsoon respectively. Approximately 50% of annual dry deposition occurred in the pre-monsoon season (March to May) and 27% of the annual dry deposition occurred in April. The total dry BC deposition rate was estimated as ∼4.6 μg m−2 day−1 providing a total deposition of 531 μg m−2 during the pre-monsoon season. The contribution of biomass burning and fossil fuel sources to BC deposition on an annual basis was 28% and 72% respectively. The annual accumulated wet deposition of BC was 196 times higher than the annual dry deposition. The ten months of observed dry deposition of BC (October 1, 2016 to August 31, 2017 – except December 2016) was ∼39% lower than that of WRF-Chem's estimated annual dry deposition from September 1, 2016 to August 31, 2017 partially due to model bias. The deposited content of BC over the snow surface has an important role in albedo reduction, therefore snow samples were collected from the surface of the Yala Glacier and the surrounding region in April 2016, 2017, and 2018. Samples were analyzed for BC mass concentration through the thermal optical analysis and single particle soot photometer method. The BC calculated via the thermal optical method was in the range of 352–854 ng g−1, higher than the BC calculated through the particle soot photometer method and estimated BC in 2 cm surface snow (imperial equation). The maximum surface snow albedo reduction due to BC was 8.8%, estimated by a widely used snow radiative transfer model and a linear regression equation.