Coal mine dust lowers spectral reflectance of Arctic snow by up to 84 percent
Dust released by an active coal mine in Svalbard, Norway, reduced the spectral reflectance of nearby snow and ice by up to 84 percent, according to new University of Colorado Boulder-led research.
The study illustrates the significant, localized role that dark-colored particulates -- which absorb more solar radiation than light-colored snow and keep more heat closer to Earth's surface -- can play in hastening Arctic ice melt.
The study was published today in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.
Unblemished snow and ice have a very high spectral albedo, a measurement used to indicate how effectively a given surface reflects solar energy. Over time, airborne black carbon particles (from soot or automobile emissions, for example) or other mineral dust can travel long distances in the atmosphere and settle on snow and glaciers, lowering the overall albedo.
For the original resource listing, click here.