| Changes in precipitating snow chemistry with location and elevation in the California Sierra Nevada - :14523 | Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR)
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Changes in precipitating snow chemistry with location and elevation in the California Sierra Nevada
  • Published Date:
    2016
  • Source:
    Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, 121(12), 7296-7309.
Filetype[PDF-2.25 MB]


Details:
  • Description:
    Orographic snowfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is an important source of water for California and can vary significantly on an annual basis. The microphysical properties of orographic clouds and subsequent formation of precipitation are impacted, in part, by aerosols of varying size, number, and chemical composition, which are incorporated into clouds formed along the Sierra barrier. Herein, the physicochemical properties and sources of insoluble residues and soluble ions found in precipitation samples were explored for three sites of variable elevation in the Sierra Nevada during the 2012-2013 winter season. Residues were characterized using a suite of physicochemical techniques to determine the size-resolved number concentrations and associated chemical composition. A transition in the aerosol sources that served as cloud seeds or were scavenged in-cloud and below-cloud was observed as a function of location and elevation. Anthropogenic influence from the Central Valley was dominant at the two lowest elevation sites (1900 and 2200mabovemean sea level (AMSL)), whereas long-range transportedmineral dust was a larger contributor at the highest elevation site where cleaner conditions were observed (2600m AMSL). The residues and soluble ions observed provide insight into how multiple aerosol sources can impact cloud and precipitation formation processes, even over relatively small spatial scales. The transition with increasing elevation to aerosols that serve as ice nucleating particlesmay impact the properties and extent of snowfall in remotemountain regions where snowpack provides a vital supply of water.

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