Assessing mining impacts from dust and black carbon on Arctic snow in Svalbard, Norway

Monday, 15 December 2014
Alia Lauren Khan1, Heidi M Dierssen2, Joshua Peter Schwarz3, Yan Ding4, Rudolf Jaffe4, Thomas H Painter5, Diane M McKnight6 and Mark H Hermanson7, (1)Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, Boulder, CO, United States, (2)University of Connecticut, Marine Sciences, Groton, CT, United States, (3)NOAA ESRL, Boulder, CO, United States, (4)Florida International University, Environmental Chemistry, Miami, FL, United States, (5)NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States, (6)University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States, (7)University Centre in Svalbard, Arctic Technology, Longyearbyen, Norway
Coal mining in Svalbard has been ongoing since the early 1900’s. In this study, spectral reflectance of undisturbed seasonal surface snow near an active coal mine closest to the largest settlement of Longyearbyen (78.2° N) with refractory black carbon (rBC) up to 345 ppb are compared to a non-contaminated pristine site at Woodfjorden (79.5 ° N) near the northern end of Svalbard with rBC ~1 ppb. Dissolved black carbon (DBC) measurements are also assessed as carbon passing through a 0.7 um filter and vary from 1 to 75 ppb. Reflectance spectra decreased dramatically across all wavelengths up to 1400 nm with increasing black carbon and the reflectance spectra did not converge at infrared wavelengths. At the most contaminated site with rBC of 345 ppb and DBC of 75 ppb, absolute reflectance was much lower than previously published results with values between 10 and 20% in blue wavelengths. This indicates the potential impact of BC on natural long-term contaminated snow spectra subject to melt and refreezing and the possibility to serve as a natural end member for global remote sensing studies. These results are also significant because there is increasing pressure being put on Arctic communities to increase mining exploration. Additionally, diminishing sea-ice resulting in increased shipping traffic will also contribute to BC impacts in the Arctic.