1NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, USA
2Goddard Earth Science and Technology Center, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
3CNR – Institute for Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Bologna, Italy
4Ev-K2-CNR Committee, Bergamo, Italy
5Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l'Environnement, Université Grenoble 1 – CNRS (UMR5183), St. Martin d'Heres, France
6Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Japan
7CNR – Water Research Institute, Brugherio (Mi), Italy
Abstract. The possible minimal range of reduction in snow surface albedo due to dry deposition of black carbon (BC) in the pre-monsoon period (March–May) was estimated as a lower bound together with the estimation of its accuracy, based on atmospheric observations at the Nepal Climate Observatory-Pyramid (NCO-P) sited at 5079 m a.s.l. in the Himalayan region. We estimated a total BC deposition rate of 2.89 μg m−2 day−1 providing a total deposition of 266 μg m−2 for March–May at the site, based on a calculation with a minimal deposition velocity of 1.0×10−4 m s−1 with atmospheric data of equivalent BC concentration. Main BC size at NCO-P site was determined as 103.1–669.8 nm by correlation analysis between equivalent BC concentration and particulate size distribution in the atmosphere. We also estimated BC deposition from the size distribution data and found that 8.7% of the estimated dry deposition corresponds to the estimated BC deposition from equivalent BC concentration data. If all the BC is deposited uniformly on the top 2-cm pure snow, the corresponding BC concentration is 26.0–68.2 μg kg−1 assuming snow density variations of 195–512 kg m−3 of Yala Glacier close to NCO-P site. Such a concentration of BC in snow could result in 2.0–5.2% albedo reductions. From a simple numerical calculations and if assuming these albedo reductions continue throughout the year, this would lead to a runoff increases of 70–204 mm of water drainage equivalent of 11.6–33.9% of the annual discharge of a typical Tibetan glacier. Our estimates of BC concentration in snow surface for pre-monsoon season can be considered comparable to those at similar altitude in the Himalayan region, where glaciers and perpetual snow region starts in the vicinity of NCO-P. Our estimates from only BC are likely to represent a lower bound for snow albedo reductions, since a fixed slower deposition velocity was used and atmospheric wind and turbulence effects, snow aging, dust deposition, and snow albedo feedbacks were not considered. This study represents the first investigation about BC deposition on snow from atmospheric aerosol data in Himalayas and related albedo effect is especially the first track at the southern slope of Himalayas.