Snow cover serves as a major control on the surface energy budget in temperate regions due to its high reflectivity compared to underlying surfaces. Winter in the northeastern United States has changed over the last several decades, resulting in shallower snowpacks, fewer days of snow cover, and increasing precipitation falling as rain in the winter. As these climatic changes occur, it is imperative that we understand current controls on the evolution of seasonal snow albedo in the region. Over three winter seasons between 2013 and 2015, snow characterization measurements were made at three open sites across New Hampshire. These near-daily measurements include spectral albedo, snow optical grain size determined through contact spectroscopy, snow depth, snow density, black carbon content, local meteorological parameters, and analysis of storm trajectories using the Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory model. Using analysis of variance, we determine that land-based winter storms result in marginally higher albedo than coastal storms or storms from the Atlantic Ocean. Through multiple regression analysis, we determine that snow grain size is significantly more important in albedo reduction than black carbon content or snow density. And finally, we present a parameterization of albedo based on days since snowfall and temperature that accounts for 52% of variance in albedo over all three sites and years. Our improved understanding of current controls on snow albedo in the region will allow for better assessment of potential response of seasonal snow albedo and snow cover to changing climate.
Earth Systems Research Center
Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
American Geophysical Union (AGU)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Adolph, A. , M. R. Albert, J. Lazarckik, J. E. Dibb, J. M. Amante, A. Price (2017) Dominance of grain size impacts on seasonal snow albedo at deforested sites in New Hampshire, Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 122:1, 121-139, https://dx.doi.org/10.1002/2016JD025362
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