Spatial and temporal variations in albedo on Storglacia¨ren, Sweden

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Extensive albedo data from Storglacia¨ren, Sweden, during nine summers are analyzed, focusing on the effect of surface slope on measurements and on the influence of clouds on albedo of both snow and ice surfaces. On clear-sky days, albedo continuously dropped throughout the day by >0.3 when derived from measurements in a horizontal plane over the slightly sloping surface.When we correct for the tilt effect, over frozen surfaces the apparent decrease in albedo largely disappeared, while over melting surfaces it became significantly less pronounced.This emphasizes the need to correct horizontally measured data for slope when they are used, for example, as ground truth for satellite-derived albedo, or in high-resolution glacier melt runoff models. Albedo varied by >0.1due to cloud fluctuations. Toquantify cloud effects, albedo changes between successive (half-)hourly and daily data were regressed against corresponding changes in cloudiness expressed by the ratio of global radiation to top-of-atmosphere solar radiation. The resulting relationship over snow explains 66% of oberved albedo changes using hourly, and 42% using daily, time-steps. Over ice, the corresponding values are 28% and 0%. Hence, cloudiness is a dominating factor in determining short-term variability of albedo over snow, whereas over ice the observed large day-to-day variability (>20%) is mainly attributed to changes in the physical characteristics of the weathering crust. Results suggest that cloud effects should be incorporated into models treating snow and ice surfaces separately.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2003

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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