Abstract

Light absorption by particulate impurities in snow and ice can affect the surface albedo and is important for the climate. The absorption properties of these particles can be determined by collecting and melting snow samples and extracting the particulate material by filtration of the meltwater. This paper describes the optical design and testing of a new instrument to measure the absorption spectrum from 400 to 750nm wavelength of the particles collected on filters using an “integrating-sandwich” configuration. The measured absorption is shown to be unaffected by scattering of light from the deposited particulates. A set of calibration standards is used to derive an upper limit for the concentration of black carbon (BC) in the snow. The wavelength dependence of the absorption spectra from 450 to 600nm is used to calculate an absorption Ångstrom exponent for the aerosol. This exponent is used to estimate the actual BC concentration in the snow samples as well as the relative contributions of BC and non-BC constituents to the absorption of solar radiation integrated over the wavelength band 300 to 750nm.

© 2011 Optical Society of America

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