Post-depositional enrichment of black soot in snow-pack and accelerated melting of Tibetan glaciers

Baiqing Xu, Junji Cao, Daniel R Joswiak, Xianqin Liu, Huabiao Zhao, Jianqiao He
2012 Environmental Research Letters  
The post-depositional enrichment of black soot in snow-pack was investigated by measuring the redistribution of black soot along monthly snow-pits on a Tien Shan glacier. The one-year experiment revealed that black soot was greatly enriched, defined as the ratio of concentration to original snow concentration, in the unmelted snow-pack by at least an order of magnitude. Greatest soot enrichment was observed in the surface snow and the lower firn-pack within the melt season percolation zone.
more » ... rcolation zone. Black carbon (BC) concentrations as high as 400 ng g −1 in the summer surface snow indicate that soot can significantly contribute to glacier melt. BC concentrations reaching 3000 ng g −1 in the bottom portion of the firn pit are especially concerning given the expected equilibrium-line altitude (ELA) rise associated with future climatic warming, which would expose the dirty underlying firn and ice. Since most of the accumulation area on Tibetan glaciers is within the percolation zone where snow densification is characterized by melting and refreezing, the enrichment of black soot in the snow-pack is of foremost importance. Results suggest the effect of black soot on glacier melting may currently be underestimated.
doi:10.1088/1748-9326/7/1/014022 fatcat:synjj5reunaero4brwyi7frazy