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Arctic and Antarctic diurnal and seasonal variations of snow albedo from multiyear Baseline Surface Radiation Network measurements

  • Author(s): Wang, Xianwei
  • Zender, Charles S
  • et al.
Abstract

This study analyzes diurnal and seasonal variations of snow albedo at four Baseline Surface Radiation Network stations in the Arctic and Antarctica from 2003 to 2008 to elucidate similarities and differences in snow albedo diurnal cycles across geographic zones and to assess how diurnal changes in snow albedo affect the surface energy budget. At the seasonal scale, the daily albedo for the perennial snow at stations South Pole and Georg von Neumayer in Antarctica has a similar symmetric variation with solar zenith angle (SZA) around the austral summer; whereas the daily albedo for the seasonal snow at stations Barrow, Alaska, and Ny-Ålesund, Spitsbergen, in the Arctic tends to decrease with SZA decrease from winter to spring before snow starts melting. At the hourly scale, each station shows unique diurnal cycles due to different processes that affect snow albedo such as cloud cover, snow metamorphism, surface hoar formation, SZA, solar azimuth angle, and surface features. Cloud escalates the snow albedo at all four stations by shifting solar radiation to visible wavelengths and diminishes the diurnal variation by diffusing incident solar radiation. The 24 h mean snow albedo is higher on cloudy than clear days by 0.02 at the South Pole (December) and Barrow (May), 0.05 at Neumayer (December), and 0.07 at Ny-Ålesund (April). Snow surface structures, for example, wind-channeled sastrugi, appear to be a controlling factor in the diurnal variation of clear-sky snow albedo at the South Pole and Ny-Ålesund. The surface hoar formation cycles and snow metamorphism are consistent with the asymmetric diurnal variation of snow albedo at Neumayer and Barrow. Near the melting point temperature, melt-freeze cycles exceed cloud and surface structure impacts and dominate the diurnal variation of snow albedo at stations Barrow and Ny-Ålesund. The satellite-measured clear-sky snow albedo usually underestimates the average all-sky snow albedo at these stations. These results illustrate the potential biases in daily and monthly albedo products constructed from sun-synchronous satellite daily instantaneous observations which inevitably undersample the diurnal variation of snow albedo.

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