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https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-998
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2019-998
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 09 Jan 2020

Submitted as: research article | 09 Jan 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Examining the atmospheric radiative and snow-darkening effects of black carbon and dust across the Rocky Mountains of the United States using WRF-Chem

Stefan Rahimi1,2, Xiaohong Liu2,3, Chun Zhao4,5, Zheng Lu2,3, and Zachary J. Lebo2 Stefan Rahimi et al.
  • 1Institue of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, 90095, USA
  • 2Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, 82071, USA
  • 3Department of AtmosphericSciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, 77843, USA
  • 4School of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, China
  • 5Anhui Province Key Laboratory of Extreme Events in Atmosphere, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, China

Abstract. WRF-Chem is run to quantify the in-snow and atmospheric radiative effects of black carbon and dust (BCD, collectively) on a convective-allowing (4-km) grid for water year 2009 across a large area of the Rocky Mountains. The snow darkening effect (SDE) due to the deposition of BCD on surface snow accelerates the snowmelt by 3 to 12 millimeters during late spring and early summer, effectuating runoff increases (decreases) prior to (after) June. Meanwhile, aerosol radiation interactions (ARI) associated with BCD generally dim the surface from incoming solar energy, introducing an energy deficit at the surface and lead to snowpack preservation by 1 to 5 millimeters. Runoff alterations brought forth by BCD ARI are of opposite phase to those associated with BCD SDEs, and the BC SDE drives a majority of the surface energy and hydrological perturbations. More generally, changes in snow water equivalent (SWE) brought forth by BCD effects are due to perturbations to the surface energy budget and not initiated by changes in precipitation amount or type. It is also found that perturbations to the surface energy budget by dust ARI can differ in sign from those of BC ARI, with the former being positive across high-albedo surfaces, enhancing snow melting and changing runoff.

Stefan Rahimi et al.

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Stefan Rahimi et al.

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Latest update: 02 Jun 2020
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Short summary
Dark particles emitted to the atmosphere can absorb sunlight and heat the air. As these particles settle, they may darken the surface, especially over snow-covered regions like the Rocky Mountains. This darkening of the surface may lead to changes in snowpack, affecting the local hydrology. We seek to evaluate whether these light-absorbing particles more prominently effect this region through their atmospheric presence or their on-snow presence.
Dark particles emitted to the atmosphere can absorb sunlight and heat the air. As these...
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