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Collaborative research: Spatial and temporal variability of surface albedo and light absorbing chemical species in Greenland


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The collaborative team will take advantage of the currently funded Greenland Inland Traverse (GrIT) traveling between Thule and Summit Greenland to access a spatially diverse area of the GIS in order to better understand albedo variability and the snow properties that influence albedo. The GrIT route offers a unique opportunity to study a wide range of snow accumulation zones (i.e. the ablation zone, soaked snow zone, the percolation zone and the dry snow zone) across Greenland, which are expected to have a broad range of albedo values as well as significant variability in snow physical properties and concentrations of light absorbing compounds (i.e. dust, elemental carbon, and brown carbon). The project's field component will take place over two seasons during the spring of 2013 and 2014. The approach will include stopping along the traverse to collect coincident daily measurements of snow spectral albedo, snow physical properties (i.e. specific surface area, density), surface snow light absorption properties (i.e. wavelength dependent absorption of water soluble compounds and particulates), and the concentrations of trace elements, organic, and elemental carbon. Additionally, the temporal evolution of spectral albedo will be monitored continuously during the sunlit months using autonomous stations deployed along the traverse route to track seasonal variations of snow albedo and to help attribute these variations to the physical and chemical composition of the snow. The results of this project will yield a unique data set characterizing the temporal and spatial variability of surface albedo as well as the physical and chemical properties of Greenland snow, which are broadly useful to both modeling, ice mass balance, and remote sensing communities. Conference presentations, rapid publication of results, and most importantly close collaboration with modelers, (i.e. through work with the CESM PCWG) will ensure that this knowledge used to improve process parameterizations in predictive global climate models. The team will also build on international collaborations begun in the Dartmouth IGERT program, including a week-long ambassadorship to Nuuk by co-PI Polashenski including lectures at the college and Katuuaq cultural center. Graduate, undergraduate, and high school student training will also be included in the project.