The Snow Darkening Effect
When tiny particles suspended in the air, known as aerosols, land in snow-covered regions, they can darken snow and ice, causing it to absorb more of the sun’s energy. In a new study, NASA scientists used a climate model to examine the impact of this snow-darkening phenomenon on snowpacks in the Northern Hemisphere. Scientists ran simulations for a 10-year period between 2002 and 2011, and compared scenarios with and without the deposition of aerosols on snow. The model showed that areas darkened by aerosols had increased surface warming and reduced snow amounts in spring. The findings suggest natural and manmade aerosols in the atmosphere might play a role in the earlier melting of winter snowpacks. Watch the video to learn more.
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Cover image courtesy of NASA/JPL/Snow Optics Laboratory/S. McKenzie Skiles
Dust image courtesy of University of Washington/Stephen G. Warren
Dark snow image courtesy of Meteorological Research Institute/Teruo Aoki