10A.4 Impacts of Snow Darkening by Absorbing Aerosols on Eurasian Climate

Wednesday, 13 January 2016: 4:45 PM
La Nouvelle C ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Kyu-myong Kim, NASA/GSFC/Climate and Radiation Laboratory, Greenbelt, MD; and W. K. M. Lau, T. J. Yasunari, and M. K. Kim

The deposition of absorbing aerosols on snow surfaces reduces snow-albedo and allows snowpack to absorb more sunlight. This so-called “snow darkening effect” (SDE) accelerates snow melting and leads to surface warming in spring. To examine the impact of SDE on weather and climate during late spring and early summer, two sets of NASA/GEOS-5 model simulations with and without SDE are conducted. Results show that SDE-induced surface heating is particularly pronounced in Eurasian regions where significant depositions of dust transported from the North African deserts, and black carbon from biomass burning from Asia and Europe occur. In these regions, the surface heating due to SDE increases surface skin temperature by 3-6 K near the snowline in spring. Surface energy budget analysis indicates that SDE-induced excess heating is associated with a large increase in surface evaporation, subsequently leading to a significant reduction in soil moisture, and increased risks of drought and heat waves in late spring to early summer.

Overall, we find that rainfall deficit combined with SDE induced dry soil in spring provide favorable condition for summertime heatwaves over large regions of Eurasia. Increased frequency of summer heatwaves with SDE and the region of maximum increase in heatwave frequency are found along the snow line, providing evidence that early snowmelt by SDE may increase the risks of extreme summer heat wave. Our results suggest that climate models that do not include SDE may significantly underestimate the effect of global warming over extratropical continental regions.

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