Abstract

Black carbon (BC) is an aerosol material produced by incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass. BC has been shown to be the second most important anthropogenic climate warming agent after carbon dioxide due to its ability to absorb solar radiation, influence cloud behavior, and accelerate snow melt. BC in otherwise clean snow can significantly reduce its reflectivity. In order to learn about the significance of BC contamination in snow, we explored the deposition of BC onto snow and the transport of BC in snow during snowmelt. A Single Particle Soot Photometer (SP2), was used to measure the concentration and size distribution of BC in an airstream drawn through snow to determine the rate at which the snow trapped BC. BC concentration in meltwater was measured to determine if the BC was left in the snow or was removed during melting. SP2 testing showed a significant drop in BC aerosol concentration after contact with the snow. This implies that naturally occurring snow is a highly efficient absorber of BC from the atmosphere. Meltwater samples had a lower BC concentration than the snow, suggesting that the majority of the BC is left behind in snow during partial melting. This accumulation of BC could potentially cause a positive feedback to the rate of snowmelt. Better understanding the behavior of BC in snow will help scientists describe the impact of BC on climate and help policymakers predict the benefits of reducing BC emissions.

Disciplines

Atmospheric Sciences | Climate | Environmental Chemistry | Environmental Education | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Environmental Monitoring

Mentor

Joshua Schwarz

Lab site

National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration Earth Systems Research Laboratory (NOAA ESRL)

Funding Acknowledgement

This material is based upon work supported by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0952013. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation or the National Science Foundation. This project has also been made possible with support of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. The STAR program is administered by the Cal Poly Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education (CESaME) on behalf of the California State University (CSU)., This material is based upon work supported by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0952013 and Grant No. 0833353. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation or the National Science Foundation. This project has also been made possible with support of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. The STAR program is administered by the Cal Poly Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education (CESaME) on behalf of the California State University (CSU)., This material is based upon work supported by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0952013 and Grant No. 0934931. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation or the National Science Foundation. This project has also been made possible with support of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. The STAR program is administered by the Cal Poly Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education (CESaME) on behalf of the California State University (CSU)., This material is based upon work supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of HHMI. This work was administered by the Cal Poly Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education (CESAME) and the Fresno State Science and Mathematics Education Center (SMEC) on behalf of the California State University.

 

URL: http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/star/260

 

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