Journal cover Journal topic
The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
The Cryosphere, 7, 1193-1204, 2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
30 Jul 2013
The effects of additional black carbon on the albedo of Arctic sea ice: variation with sea ice type and snow cover
A. A. Marks and M. D. King Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX, UK
Abstract. The response of the albedo of bare sea ice and snow-covered sea ice to the addition of black carbon is calculated. Visible light absorption and light-scattering cross-sections are derived for a typical first-year and multi-year sea ice with both "dry" and "wet" snow types. The cross-sections are derived using data from a 1970s field study that recorded both reflectivity and light penetration in Arctic sea ice and snow overlying sea ice. The variation of absorption cross-section over the visible wavelengths suggests black carbon is the dominating light-absorbing impurity. The response of first-year and multi-year sea ice albedo to increasing black carbon, from 1 to 1024 ng g−1, in a top 5 cm layer of a 155 cm-thick sea ice was calculated using a radiative-transfer model. The albedo of the first-year sea ice is more sensitive to additional loadings of black carbon than the multi-year sea ice. An addition of 8 ng g−1 of black carbon causes a decrease to 98.7% of the original albedo for first-year sea ice compared to a decrease to 99.7% for the albedo of multi-year sea ice, at a wavelength of 500 nm. The albedo of sea ice is surprisingly unresponsive to additional black carbon up to 100 ng g−1 . Snow layers on sea ice may mitigate the effects of black carbon in sea ice. Wet and dry snow layers of 0.5, 1, 2, 5 and 10 cm depth were added onto the sea ice surface. The albedo of the snow surface was calculated whilst the black carbon in the underlying sea ice was increased. A layer of snow 0.5 cm thick greatly diminishes the effect of black carbon in sea ice on the surface albedo. The albedo of a 2–5 cm snow layer (less than the e-folding depth of snow) is still influenced by the underlying sea ice, but the effect of additional black carbon in the sea ice is masked.

Citation: Marks, A. A. and King, M. D.: The effects of additional black carbon on the albedo of Arctic sea ice: variation with sea ice type and snow cover, The Cryosphere, 7, 1193-1204,, 2013.
Publications Copernicus