Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (Jan 2023)

Meteorological export and deposition fluxes of black carbon on glaciers of the central Chilean Andes

  • R. Lapere,
  • N. Huneeus,
  • S. Mailler,
  • S. Mailler,
  • L. Menut,
  • F. Couvidat

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 23
pp. 1749 – 1768


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Air pollution in the central zone of Chile is not only a public health concern but also threatens water resources and climate, in connection with the transport and deposition of black carbon (BC) from urban centers onto the glaciers of the Andes. Chemistry-transport simulations reveal a seasonal dichotomy in the flux and latitudinal pattern of BC deposition on glaciers of the central Chilean Andes. The average deposition flux of BC on glaciers between 30 and 37∘ S is 4 times larger in winter, affecting mostly low-elevation glaciers, whereas the smaller summertime flux affects glaciers evenly, irrespective of their elevation. The contribution of emissions from the city of Santiago is dominant in summertime with more than 50 % along the Andes but minor in wintertime with less than 20 % even close to the capital city. Transport at larger scales and more local sources likely account for the remaining flux. The superimposition of synoptic-scale circulation and local mountain-valley circulation along the Andes drives the differences between summertime and wintertime deposition fluxes and generates a greater meteorological export potential during summer months. Future emissions and climate projections suggest that under the RCP8.5 scenario the gap between summertime and wintertime BC export and deposition flux could decrease, thereby pointing to summertime emission control gaining relevance. The chemistry-transport modeling approach for BC deposition on the Andes sheds light on the importance of the often disregarded summertime emissions on the radiative balance of its glaciers, particularly in the vicinity of Santiago.