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Quantification of the radiative impact of light-absorbing particles during two contrasted snow seasons at Col du Lautaret (2058 m a.s.l., French Alps)

Abstract : The presence of light-absorbing particles (LAPs) in snow leads to a decrease in short-wave albedo affecting the surface energy budget. However, the understanding of the impacts of LAPs is hampered by the lack of dedicated datasets, as well as the scarcity of models able to represent the interactions between LAPs and snow metamorphism. The present study aims to address both these limitations by introducing a survey of LAP concentrations over two snow seasons in the French Alps and an estimation of their impacts based on the Crocus snowpack model that represents the complex interplays between LAP dynamics and snow metamorphism.

First, a unique dataset collected at Col du Lautaret (2058 m a.s.l., above sea level, French Alps) for the two snow seasons 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 is presented. This dataset consists of spectral albedo measurements, vertical profiles of snow specific surface area (SSA), density and concentrations of different LAP species. Spectral albedos are processed to estimate SSA and LAP absorption-equivalent concentrations near the surface of the snowpack. These estimates are then compared to chemical measurements of LAP concentrations and SSA measurements. Our dataset highlights, among others, large discrepancies between two measurement techniques of black carbon (BC) concentrations in snow (namely thermal-optical and laser-induced incandescence).

Second, we present ensemble snowpack simulations of the multi-physics version of the detailed snowpack model Crocus, forced with in situ meteorological data, as well as dust and BC deposition fluxes from an atmospheric model. The temporal variations of near-surface LAP concentrations and SSA are most of the time correctly simulated. The simulated seasonal radiative forcing of LAPs is 33 % higher for the 2017-2018 snow season than for the 2016-2017 one, highlighting a strong variability between these two seasons. However, the shortening of the snow season caused by LAPs is similar with 10 ± 5 and 11 ± 1 d for the first and the second snow seasons, respectively. This counter-intuitive result is attributed to two small snowfalls at the end of the first season and highlights the importance in accounting for meteorological conditions to correctly predict the impact of LAPs. The strong variability of season shortening caused by LAPs in the multi-physics ensemble for the first season (10 ± 5 d) also points out the sensitivity of model-based estimations of LAP impact on modelling uncertainties of other processes. Finally, the indirect impact of LAPs (i.e. the enhancement of energy absorption due to the acceleration of the metamorphism by LAPs) is negligible for the 2 years considered here, which is contrary to what was found in previous studies for other sites.

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Submitted on : Sunday, May 15, 2022 - 11:24:53 AM
Last modification on : Monday, May 16, 2022 - 8:20:31 AM


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François Tuzet, Marie Dumont, Ghislain Picard, Maxim Lamare, Didier Voisin, et al.. Quantification of the radiative impact of light-absorbing particles during two contrasted snow seasons at Col du Lautaret (2058 m a.s.l., French Alps). The Cryosphere, 2020, 14, pp.4553-4579. ⟨10.5194/tc-14-4553-2020⟩. ⟨insu-03668357⟩



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