Snow in the Andes as clean as Canadian Arctic: study

Snow in the Andes is as pure as that in Alaska or the Canadian Arctic, the study found
Snow in the Andes is as pure as that in Alaska or the Canadian Arctic, the study found

Snow covering the Andes mountains is as clean as the Canadian Arctic, scientists said Friday after hundreds of tests to determine the presence of black carbon deposits or other pollutants.

Following extensive tests along the vast mountain range, which stretches about 7,000 kilometers (4,300 miles) along the western coast of Latin America, experts said they found less than 14 nanograms of soot per gram of .

The results put the snow in the Andes "on the same level as that in Alaska or the Canadian Arctic," said Raul Cordero of Santiago University, who led the study.

The research was part of a project examining the presence of black carbon deposits in frozen regions of the Andes, collectively known as the cryosphere.

"The concentration of black carbon deposits found in the Andean snow implies a reduction in the reflectivity or albedo of the snow of less than 2.0 percent," he said.

Albedo is a measure of light reflectivity which is highest in the frozen areas of the world, and clean snow with high levels of albedo reflects more of the sun's energy than it absorbs.

But black carbon deposits, emitted by burning diesel, wood and fossil fuels, darken the surface of snow and lower its albedo, meaning that it melts faster.

Studying black concentrations can be important for predicting future melt rates.

Cordero said the study showed that "contamination on its own cannot explain the reduction in and retreat of glaciers that has been observed in the Andes in last few decades."


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© 2018 AFP

Citation: Snow in the Andes as clean as Canadian Arctic: study (2018, April 28) retrieved 26 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-andes-canadian-arctic.html
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Apr 28, 2018
Black Carbon also comes from Volcanic Activity which is on the increase and within South America as increasing eruptions are occurring (just as they are along the entire Ring of Fire) this is unlikely to remain as it is for much longer.

Apr 28, 2018
"Cordero said the study showed that "contamination on its own cannot explain the reduction in snow cover and retreat of glaciers that has been observed in the Andes in last few decades."

Seems like a defensive statement of political nature.

Apr 28, 2018
I think you're the one being defensive (and politicizing the statement). Scientists are human. Don't blame them for getting sick of all of the deflective excuses climate deniers make.

Apr 30, 2018
The basis for this is wrong. Ever see snow melt? Fresh, clean snow and ice melts fast, faster than dirty snowpiles you see in cities. The dirty snowpiles are blackened by road dirt yet melt much slower.

Apr 30, 2018
Black Carbon also comes from Volcanic Activity which is on the increase and within South America as increasing eruptions are occurring (just as they are along the entire Ring of Fire) this is unlikely to remain as it is for much longer.

Quite a few things wrong with this. Most importantly, volcanoes don't release black carbon, as any carbon they release, if it isn't already carbon dioxide, instantly oxidizes into carbon dioxide because of the high temperatures.

Apr 30, 2018
The basis for this is wrong. Ever see snow melt? Fresh, clean snow and ice melts fast, faster than dirty snowpiles you see in cities. The dirty snowpiles are blackened by road dirt yet melt much slower.
Straw man argument. Snowpiles are different from undisturbed snow because the snow undergoes compaction and it's surface area to volume ratio is greatly reduced. The real comparison would be undisturbed snow, one section with black carbon and one without.

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