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Black carbon (BC) is the most effective insoluble light-absorbing particulate (ILAP), which can strongly absorb solar radiation at visible wavelengths. Once BC is deposited in snow via dry or wet process, even a small amount of BC could significantly decrease snow albedo, enhance absorption of solar radiation, accelerate snow melting, and cause climate feedback. BC is considered the second most important component next to CO2 in terms of global warming. Similarly, mineral dust (MD) is another type of ILAP. So far, little attention has been paid to quantitative measurements of BC and MD deposition on snow surface in the midlatitudes of East Asia, especially over northern China. In this paper, we focus on reviewing several experiments performed for collecting and measuring scavenging BC and MD in the high Asian glaciers over the mountain range (such as the Himalayas) and in seasonal snow over northern China. Results from the surveyed literature indicate that the absorption of ILAP in seasonal snow is dominated by MD in the Qilian Mountains and by local soil dust in the Inner Mongolian region close to dust sources. The detection of BC in snow and ice cores using modern techniques has a large bias and uncertainty when the snow sample is mixed with MD. Evidence also indicates that the reduction of snow albedo by BC and MD perturbations can significantly increase the net surface solar radiation, cause surface air temperature to rise, reduce snow accumulation, and accelerate snow melting.
Xin, W., X. Baiqing, & M. Jing (2014) An Overview of the Studies on Black Carbon and Mineral Dust Deposition in Snow and Ice Cores in East Asia, J. of Meteorological Res. 28(3):354-370.