Retrieving black carbon on snow and ice surfaces in the arctic

Publication details

In the last IPCC report the black carbon (BC) impact of
the Arctic was recognized as an independent and
recognizable contribution to global climate change. The
overall objective of the project behind the work
presented here is to determine whether the black carbon
content in snow and glacier ice surfaces can be retrieved
from satellite data. Preliminary analysis of satellite
measurements shows that high concentrations of BC
(from local sources) are clearly detectable in the satellite
signal, both over snow and glacier ice surfaces.
Chemical BC analysis of snow and ice samples taken in
the field show values consistent with the satellite data.
Even if the general low BC level in the snow due to
long-transported aerosols might be hard to measure in
the cold, dry season, we have seen a significant increase
in the signal during the melting which may make BC
retrieval possible during the summer months.