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Albedo of ice types in northeast Greenland's ablation zone



Ice types, albedos and impurity content are characterized for the ablation zone of the Greenland ice sheet in Kronprinz Christians Land (808 N, 248 W). Along this ice margin the width of the ablation zone is only about 8 km. The emergence and melting of old ice in the ablation zone creates a surface layer of dust that was originally deposited with snowfall high on the ice sheet. This debris cover is augmented by locally derived wind-blown sediment. Subsequently, the surface dust particles often aggregate together to form centimetre-scale clumps that melt into the ice, creating cryoconite holes. The debris in the cryoconite holes becomes hidden from sunlight, raising the area-averaged albedo relative to surfaces with uniform debris cover. Spectral and broadband albedos were obtained for snow, ice hummocks, debris-covered ice, cryoconite-studded ice and barren tundra surfaces. Broadband ice albedos varied from 0.2 (for ice with heavy loading of uniform debris) to 0.6 (for ice hummocks with cryoconite holes). The cryoconite material itself has albedo 0.1 when wet.

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Additional information

  • 1.0 (2011-11-02)
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Related projects
Spatial Type point
Language English
Grant Code 0612636
Grant Contact Richard Brandt
ISO Topic Categories
  • climatologyMeteorologyAtmosphere
GCMD Science Keywords Expand keywords
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Temporal coverage

Begin datetime 2006-08-02 00:00:00
End datetime 2006-08-10 00:00:00

Spatial coverage

Map data from IBCSO, IBCAO, and Global Topography.

Maximum (North) Latitude: 79.933, Minimum (South) Latitude: 79.90
Minimum (West) Longitude: -24.50, Maximum (East) Longitude: -24.017

Primary point of contact information

Stephen G. Warren <>

Additional contact information


Warren, S., Grenfell, T., Clarke, A. 2011. Albedo of ice types in northeast Greenland's ablation zone. Version 1.0. UCAR/NCAR - Earth Observing Laboratory. Accessed 13 Jun 2024.

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