Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/hess-2016-551
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
15 Nov 2016
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
Modelling hydrologic impacts of light absorbing aerosol deposition on snow at the catchment scale
Felix N. Matt1, John F. Burkhart1,2, and Joni-Pekka Pietikäinen3 1Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
2Statkraft AS, Norway
3Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
Abstract. Light absorbing impurities in snow and ice (LAISI) originating from atmospheric deposition enhance the snow melt by increasing the absorption of short wave radiation. The consequences are a shortening of the snow duration due to increased snow melt and, on a catchment scale, a temporal shift in the discharge generation during the spring melt season. In this study, we present a newly developed snow algorithm for application in hydrolgical models that allows for an additional class of input variables: the deposition rate of various species of light absorbing aerosols.

To show the sensitivity of different model parameters, we first use the model as 1-D point model forced with representative synthetic data and investigate the impact of parameters and variables specific to the algorithm determining the effect of LAISI. We then demonstrate the significance of the additional forcing by simulating black carbon deposited on snow of a remote south Norwegian catchment over a six years period, from September 2006 to August 2012. Our simulations suggest a significant impact of BC in snow on the hydrological cycle, with an average increase in discharge of 2.5 %, 9.9 %, and 21.4 % for our minimum, central and maximum effect estimate, respectively, over a two months period during the spring melt season compared to simulations where radiative forcing from LAISI is turned off. The increase in discharge is followed by a decrease caused by melt limitation due to faster decrease of the catchment's snow covered fraction in the scenarios where radiative forcing from LAISI is applied. The central effect estimate produces reasonable surface BC concentrations in snow with a strong annual cycle, showing increasing surface BC concentration during spring melt as consequence of melt amplification. However, we further identify large uncertainties in the representation of the surface BC concentration and the subsequent consequences for the snowpack evolution.


Citation: Matt, F. N., Burkhart, J. F., and Pietikäinen, J.-P.: Modelling hydrologic impacts of light absorbing aerosol deposition on snow at the catchment scale, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2016-551, in review, 2016.
Felix N. Matt et al.
Felix N. Matt et al.
Felix N. Matt et al.

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Short summary
Certain particles that have the ability to absorb sunlight deposit onto mountain snow via atmospheric transport mechanisms and then lower the snow's ability to reflect sunlight, which increases snow melt. Herein we present a model aiming to simulate this effect and model the impacts on the stream flow of a south Norwegian river. We find a significant difference in stream flow between simulations with and without the effect of light absorbing particles applied, in particular during spring melt.
Certain particles that have the ability to absorb sunlight deposit onto mountain snow via...
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