SIGMA (Snow Impurity and Glacial Microbe effects on abrupt warming in the Arctic)

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS),
Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (S), 23221004

SIGMA project

Many climate models cannot simulate the recent abrupt melting of snow/ice in the Arctic. One of the possible causes is albedo reduction of snow/ice surface by light absorbing snow impurities such as black carbon (BC) and dust and by glacial microbes. To clarify that, the following observational and modeling studies will be conducted through SIGMA (Snow Impurity and Glacial Microbe effects on the Arctic) project by Japanese cryosphere scientists. We will make (1) field campaign in Greenland from 2011 to 2013 (or 2014), where the abrupt snow/ice melting is occurring, and (2) continuous meteorological and snow observations at three sites in snow-covered areas of Japan from 2011 to 2014 (or 2015). (3) Based on the in situ data obtained from (1) and (2), our snow metamorphism and albedo process (SMAP) model to calculate snow microphysics and snow albedo from heat budget data and snow impurity information is improved. We also develop glacial microbe model (GMM), which simulates microbial (cryoconite) activities and the albedo on glacier surface. Using earth system model (ESM) in which the SMAP model and GMM are incorporated, recent snow/ice melting and the future climate in the Arctic will be simulated. By these numerical simulations, we clarify the quantitative contributions of snow impurities and glacial microbes on the recent abrupt snow/ice melting in the Arctic. (4) Snow physical parameters and albedo will be retrieved from satellite remote sensing and are used for the validation of the present climate condition simulated with ESM. (5) We will also conduct shallow ice core drilling in Greenland ice sheet to obtain the variations of the atmospheric aerosols, snow impurities, and glacial microbes after the Industrial Revolution. The aerosol and microbe records reproduced from the ice core samples will be used for validation of the past climate condition in the Arctic simulated with ESM.

This project is supported by The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology(MEXT), Grant-in-Aid for Science Research (S) (PI: Teruo Aoki, Meteorological Research Institute).


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