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Title: Unraveling driving forces explaining significant reduction in satellite-inferred Arctic surface albedo since the 1980s

Abstract

The Arctic has warmed significantly since the early 1980s and much of this warming can be attributed to the surface albedo feedback. In this study, satellite observations reveal a 1.25 to 1.51% per decade absolute reduction in the Arctic mean surface albedo in spring and summer during 1982 to 2014. Results from a global model and reanalysis data are used to unravel the causes of this albedo reduction. We find that reductions of terrestrial snow cover, snow cover fraction over sea ice, and sea ice extent appear to contribute equally to the Arctic albedo decline. We show that the decrease in snow cover fraction is primarily driven by the increase in surface air temperature, followed by declining snowfall. Although the total precipitation has increased as the Arctic warms, Arctic snowfall is reduced substantially in all analyzed data sets. Light-absorbing soot in snow has been decreasing in past decades over the Arctic, indicating that soot heating has not been the driver of changes in the Arctic snow cover, ice cover, and surface albedo since the 1980s.

Authors:
; ORCiD logo; ; ;
Publication Date:
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
OSTI Identifier:
1574028
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC05-76RLO1830
Resource Type:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Journal Volume: 116 Journal Issue: 48; Journal ID: ISSN 0027-8424
Publisher:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English

Citation Formats

Zhang, Rudong, Wang, Hailong, Fu, Qiang, Rasch, Philip J., and Wang, Xuanji. Unraveling driving forces explaining significant reduction in satellite-inferred Arctic surface albedo since the 1980s. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.1073/pnas.1915258116.
Zhang, Rudong, Wang, Hailong, Fu, Qiang, Rasch, Philip J., & Wang, Xuanji. Unraveling driving forces explaining significant reduction in satellite-inferred Arctic surface albedo since the 1980s. United States. doi:10.1073/pnas.1915258116.
Zhang, Rudong, Wang, Hailong, Fu, Qiang, Rasch, Philip J., and Wang, Xuanji. Mon . "Unraveling driving forces explaining significant reduction in satellite-inferred Arctic surface albedo since the 1980s". United States. doi:10.1073/pnas.1915258116.
@article{osti_1574028,
title = {Unraveling driving forces explaining significant reduction in satellite-inferred Arctic surface albedo since the 1980s},
author = {Zhang, Rudong and Wang, Hailong and Fu, Qiang and Rasch, Philip J. and Wang, Xuanji},
abstractNote = {The Arctic has warmed significantly since the early 1980s and much of this warming can be attributed to the surface albedo feedback. In this study, satellite observations reveal a 1.25 to 1.51% per decade absolute reduction in the Arctic mean surface albedo in spring and summer during 1982 to 2014. Results from a global model and reanalysis data are used to unravel the causes of this albedo reduction. We find that reductions of terrestrial snow cover, snow cover fraction over sea ice, and sea ice extent appear to contribute equally to the Arctic albedo decline. We show that the decrease in snow cover fraction is primarily driven by the increase in surface air temperature, followed by declining snowfall. Although the total precipitation has increased as the Arctic warms, Arctic snowfall is reduced substantially in all analyzed data sets. Light-absorbing soot in snow has been decreasing in past decades over the Arctic, indicating that soot heating has not been the driver of changes in the Arctic snow cover, ice cover, and surface albedo since the 1980s.},
doi = {10.1073/pnas.1915258116},
journal = {Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America},
number = 48,
volume = 116,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {11}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
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DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1915258116

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