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East Antarctic sea ice in spring: spectral albedo of snow, nilas, frost flowers and slush, and light-absorbing impurities in snow

  • Maria C. Zatko (a1) and Stephen G. Warren (a1)

Abstract

Spectral albedos of open water, nilas, nilas with frost flowers, slush, and first-year ice with both thin and thick snow cover were measured in the East Antarctic sea-ice zone during the Sea Ice Physics and Ecosystems eXperiment II (SIPEX II) from September to November 2012, near 65°S, 120°E. Albedo was measured across the ultraviolet (UV), visible and near-infrared (nIR) wavelengths, augmenting a dataset from prior Antarctic expeditions with spectral coverage extended to longer wavelengths, and with measurement of slush and frost flowers, which had not been encountered on the prior expeditions. At visible and UV wavelengths, the albedo depends on the thickness of snow or ice; in the nIR the albedo is determined by the specific surface area. The growth of frost flowers causes the nilas albedo to increase by 0.2–0.3 in the UV and visible wavelengths. The spectral albedos are integrated over wavelength to obtain broadband albedos for wavelength bands commonly used in climate models. The albedo spectrum for deep snow on first-year sea ice shows no evidence of light-absorbing particulate impurities (LAI), such as black carbon (BC) or organics, which is consistent with the extremely small quantities of LAI found by filtering snow meltwater. Estimated BC mixing ratios were in the range 0.1–0.5 ng of carbon per gram of snow.

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References

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