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Grad student talk - Mining impacts on surface albedo of snow in Svalbard, Norway

Thursday, January 15, 2015, 4:30PM - 5:30PM


Alia Khan


RL-1 room 269

Coal mining in Svalbard has been ongoing since the early 1900s. In this study, spectral reflectance of undisturbed seasonal surface snow near an active coal mine closest to the largest settlement of Longyearbyen (78.2° N), are compared to a non-contaminated pristine site at Woodfjorden (79.5° N) in northern Svalbard. Reflectance spectra decreased dramatically across all wavelengths up to 1400 nm, with corresponding increases in black carbon (BC) concentration. At the most contaminated site next to the mine, PBC concentrations reached 345 ng/g, whereas values were only 1 ng/g at the pristine northern site. Due to lack of point sources in the north, it is assumed BC concentration there is purely from long-range transport. Absolute reflectance was also much lower than previously published results with values, between 10 and 20% in the blue/visible wavelengths where impurities have the largest affect on albedo. This indicates the potential impact of PBC on long-term contaminated snow spectra subject to melt and refreezing. It also provides a basis for exploring this site, or similar ones, as a natural end member for global remote sensing studies of BC in snow. These results are timely due to increasing pressure on Arctic communities to increase mining exploration and diminishing sea ice resulting in increased shipping traffic, both of which will continue to contribute more BC to the Arctic.