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Reduced black carbon contamination mitigates future snowpack loss over the Northern Hemisphere

Presentation Date
Friday, December 15, 2023 at 8:30am - Friday, December 15, 2023 at 12:50pm
MC - Poster Hall A-C - South



Climate-sensitive snow is frequently polluted with light-absorbing particles (LAP), e.g., black carbon (BC) and dust, resulting in snow darkening, earlier snowmelt and regional climate change. However, the future deposition and surface radiative forcings (RF) of LAP in snow and their contributions to snowpack change relative to global warming remain underexplored. This study shows that BC deposition over the entire snow-covered regions of the Northern Hemisphere is projected to significantly decrease by 2081-2100 under both SSP126 and SSP585 scenarios, using the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 simulations. Compared to BC, dust deposition is projected to be larger under both SSP126 and SSP585 scenarios during 2081-2100 than the historical period, especially over the Tibetan Plateau. Consequently, the LAP-induced RF in snow averaged over the North Hemisphere is projected to decrease from 1.3 W m-2 (Historical, 1995-2014) to 0.65 W m-2 (SSP126) and 0.49 W m-2 (SSP585) during 2081-2100 as simulated by the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) land model. We further quantify separately the contributions of climate change and LAP evolution to future snowpack and demonstrate that the projected LAP change in snow over the Tibetan Plateau will contribute to alleviating the future snowpack loss due to climate change by 52.1±8.0% for SSP126 and 8.0±1.1% for SSP585. Our findings highlight a cleaner snow future and its benefits to future water availability from snowmelt under global warming.

Funding Program Area(s)