Effect of Biogenic Material on Glacial Albedo
Blooms of snow algae can reduce the surface albedo (light reflectance) of snow and ice, and largely affect their melting (Thomas and Duval, 1995; Hoham and Duval, 2001). For example, some glaciers in Himalayas are covered with a large amount of dark-colored biogenic material (cryoconite) derived from snow algae and bacteria (Kohshima et al., 1993; Takeuchi et al., 2001). The albedo of the intact surfaces bearing the cryoconite was substantially lower than that of the surface from which the cryoconite was artificially removed (5% versus 37%). The melting rates of the intact surfaces were reported to be 3 times larger than that of the surfaces without the cryoconite. Thus, snow algal activity possibly affects heat budget and mass balance of glaciers.
The surface of a Himalayan glacier is covered by dark-colored biogenic material. Spectral reflectance of the glacial surface with and without the biogenic material. The biogenic material significantly reduce the surface albedo of the glacier
The biogenic material is called as "cryoconite". Cryoconite on a ice surface.

Related papers

  • Takeuchi, N., Koshima, S., and Segawa, T. (2003): Effect of cryoconite and snow algal communities on surface albedo on maritime glaciers in south Alaska, Bulletin of Glaciological Research, 20, 21-27 [Abstract]
  • Takeuchi, N. (2002): Optical characteristics of cryoconite (surface dust) on glaciers: the relationship between light absorbency and the property of organic matter contained in the cryoconite. Annals of Glaciology, 34, 409-414. [Abstract]
  • Takeuchi, N. (2002): Surface albedo and characteristics of cryoconite on an Alaska glacier (Gulkana Glacier in the Alaska Range), Bulletin of Glaciological Research, 19, 63-70. [Abstract]
  • Takeuchi, N., Kohshima, S., and Seko, K. (2001): Structure, formation, darkening process of albedo reducing material (cryoconite) on a Himalayan glacier: a granular algal mat growing on the glacier. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, 33, 115-122. [Abstract]
  • Takeuchi, N., Kohshima, S., Shiraiwa, T., and Kubota, K. (2001): Characteristics of cryoconite (surface dust on glaciers) and surface albedo of a Patagonian glacier, Tyndall Glacier, Southern Patagonia Icefield, Bulletin of Glaciological Research, 18, 65-69.[Abstract]
  • Takeuchi, N., Kohshima, S., Goto-Azuma, K., and Korner, R. M. (2001): Biological characteristics of dark colored material (cryoconite) on Canadian_Arctic glaciers (Devon and Penny ice cap), Proceeding of the Memoirs of National Institute of Polar Research, Special Issue, 54, 495-505. [Abstract]

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