Measurement of light-absorbing particles in surface snow of central and western Himalayan glaciers: spatial variability, radiative impacts, and potential source regions Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract. We collected surface snow samples from three different glaciers Yala, Thana, and Sachin in the central and western Himalayas to understand the spatial variability and radiative impacts of light-absorbing particles. The Yala and Thana glaciers in Nepal and Bhutan, respectively, were selected to represent the central Himalayas. The Sachin glacier in Pakistan was selected to represent the western Himalayas. The samples were collected during the pre- and post-monsoon seasons of the year 2016. The samples were analyzed for black carbon (BC) and water-insoluble organic carbon (OC) through the thermal optical method. The average mass concentrations (BC 2381ngg1; OC 3896ngg1; dust 101gg1) in the western Himalayas (Sachin glacier) were quite high compared to the mass concentrations (BC 358ngg1, OC 904ngg1, dust 22gg1) in the central Himalayas (Yala glacier). The difference in mass concentration may be due to the difference in elevation, snow age, local pollution sources, and meteorological conditions. BC in surface snow was also estimated through Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model coupled with Chemistry (WRF-Chem) simulations at the three glacier sites during the sampling periods. Simulations reasonably capture the spatial and seasonal patterns of the observed BC in snow but with a relatively smaller magnitude. Absolute snow albedo was estimated through the Snow, Ice, and Aerosol Radiative (SNICAR) model. The absolute snow albedo reduction ranged from 0.48% (Thana glacier during September) to 24% (Sachin glacier during May) due to BC and 0.13% (Yala glacier during September) to 5% (Sachin glacier during May) due to dust. The instantaneous radiative forcing due to BC and dust was estimated in the range of 0 to 96.48 and 0 to 25Wm2, respectively. The lowest and highest albedo reduction and radiative forcing were observed in central and western Himalayan glaciers, respectively. The potential source regions of the deposited pollutants were inferred using WRF-Chem tagged-tracer simulations. Selected glaciers in the western Himalayas were mostly affected by long-range transport from the Middle East and central Asia; however, the central Himalayan glaciers were mainly affected by local and south Asia emissions (from Nepal, India, and China) especially during the pre-monsoon season. Overall, south Asia and west Asia were the main contributing source regions of pollutants.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 2.6

author list (cited authors)

  • Gul, C., Kang, S., Puppala, S. P., Wu, X., He, C., Xu, Y., ... Dubache, G.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Gul, Chaman||Kang, Shichang||Puppala, Siva Praveen||Wu, Xiaokang||He, Cenlin||Xu, Yangyang||Koch, Inka||Muhammad, Sher||Kumar, Rajesh||Dubache, Getachew

publication date

  • 2022