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Publication Date
2 October 2023

A cleaner snow future mitigates Northern Hemisphere snowpack loss from warming



AbstractLight-absorbing particles (LAP) deposited on seasonal snowpack can result in snow darkening, earlier snowmelt, and regional climate change. However, their future evolution and contributions to snowpack change relative to global warming remain unclear. Here, using Earth System Model simulations, we project significantly reduced black carbon deposition by 2081-2100, which reduces the December-May average LAP-induced radiative forcing in snow over the Northern Hemisphere from 1.3 Wm−2 during 1995-2014 to 0.65 (SSP126) and 0.49 (SSP585) Wm−2. We quantify separately the contributions of climate change and LAP evolution on future snowpack and demonstrate that projected LAP changes in snow over the Tibetan Plateau will alleviate future snowpack loss due to climate change by 52.1 ± 8.0% and 8.0 ± 1.1% at the end of the century for the two scenarios, mainly due to reduced black carbon contamination. Our findings highlight a cleaner snow future and its benefits for future water supply from snowmelt especially under the sustainable development pathway of SSP126.

Hao, Dalei, Gautam Bisht, Hailong Wang, Donghui Xu, Huilin Huang, Yun Qian, and L. Ruby Leung. 2023. “A Cleaner Snow Future Mitigates Northern Hemisphere Snowpack Loss From Warming”. Nature Communications 14 (1). Springer Science and Business Media LLC. doi:10.1038/s41467-023-41732-6.
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