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Spatial and temporal variations in albedo on Storglaciären, Sweden

  • Ulf Jonsell (a1), Regine Hock (a1) and Björn Holmgren (a2)


Extensive albedo data from Storglaciären, Sweden, during nine summers are analyzed, focusing on the effect of surface slope on measurements and on the influence of clouds on albedo of both snow and ice surfaces. On clear-sky days, albedo continuously dropped throughout the day by > 0.3 when derived from measurements in a horizontal plane over the slightly sloping surface. When we correct for the tilt effect, over frozen surfaces the apparent decrease in albedo largely disappeared, while over melting surfaces it became significantly less pronounced. This emphasizes the need to correct horizontally measured data for slope when they are used, for example, as ground truth for satellite-derived albedo, or in high-resolution glacier melt runoff models. Albedo varied by > 0.1 due to cloud fluctuations. To quantify cloud effects, albedo changes between successive (half-)hourly and daily data were regressed against corresponding changes in cloudiness expressed by the ratio of global radiation to top-of-atmosphere solar radiation. The resulting relationship over snow explains 66% of oberved albedo changes using hourly, and 42% using daily, time-steps. Over ice, the corresponding values are 28% and 0%. Hence, cloudiness is a dominating factor in determining short-term variability of albedo over snow, whereas over ice the observed large day-to-day variability ( > 20%) is mainly attributed to changes in the physical characteristics of the weathering crust. Results suggest that cloud effects should be incorporated into models treating snow and ice surfaces separately.

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Journal of Glaciology
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