Seasonal snowpacks accumulate impurities derived from atmospheric aerosols and trace gases throughout the winter and release them during snowmelt. Previous field and laboratory studies have shown that a snowpack can lose up to 80% of the soluble ion burden in the first 20% of the melt, an event commonly known as an ionic pulse. Other studies have concluded that particulate impurities (e.g., black carbon (BC)) concentrate in surface layers during melt which can have important implications for snowpack albedo. However, model and field studies have indicated that meltwater scavenging efficiency of BC in melting snowpacks is still an area of uncertainty. To quantify BC melt dynamics and the release of soluble impurities, we collected and analyzed near-daily chemical profiles in the snowpack at three sites during two winters in New Hampshire, United States of America. We observe an ionic pulse and a pulse of BC from the snowpack at the onset of melt; up to 62% of BC leaves within the first 24% of the melt. Surface concentrations of BC are higher than seasonal medians at the end of the winter season, but surface enhancements do not appear to be closely linked to decreases in snow-water equivalence caused by melting.


Earth Systems Research Center; New Hampshire EPSCoR

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Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres


American Geophysical Union (AGU)

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©2016. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


This is an article published by AGU in Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres in 2017, available online: