27 Oct 2023
 | 27 Oct 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Brief communication: Influence of snow cover on albedo reduction by snow algae

Pablo Almela, James J. Elser, J. Joseph Giersch, Scott Hotaling, and Trinity L. Hamilton

Abstract. Snow algae contribute to snowmelt by darkening the surface, reducing its albedo. However, the potential consequences of algae under the surface (such as after a fresh snowfall) on albedo reduction is not known. In this study, we examined the impact of sub-surface snow algae on surface energy absorption. The results indicate energy absorption across all analysed wavelength ranges when snow algae are snow-covered, an effect that was correlated with both cell densities and chlorophyll-a concentrations. These findings suggest that snow algae lower albedo and thus increase snow melt even when snow-covered.

Pablo Almela et al.

Status: open (until 22 Dec 2023)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2379', Andrew Gray, 30 Nov 2023 reply

Pablo Almela et al.


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Short summary
In the summer, snow algae blooms are common in alpine and polar regions, visible as colorful spots on the snow. These algae reduce the snow's reflectivity and accelerate the melting process. Previous research mainly focused on visible surface algae. Our study delves into the effects of sub-surface snow algae on albedo reduction. We found that these hidden algae still absorb sunlight across different wavelengths, potentially influencing snow melt rates.