Penetration of solar radiation into pure and Mars-dust contaminated snow

Kaufmann, E. and Hagermann, A. (2015). Penetration of solar radiation into pure and Mars-dust contaminated snow. Icarus, 252 pp. 144–149.



Rock and soil surface layers absorb and reflect incoming solar radiation immediately at the surface. Ices on the other hand, whilst opaque in the infrared, are partially transparent in the visible spectral range. These properties are responsible for the “solid-state greenhouse effect” (SSGE), which may play an important role in the energy balance of icy surfaces in the Solar System. To model the SSGE, we need to know not only thermal properties but also optical properties such as the albedo and the absorption scale length of the ice. We have investigated the absorption scale length, also known as e-folding scale, of snow/dust mixtures within the scope of a project directed at investigating the behaviour of the martian polar caps. After measuring the e-folding scale of recrystallized snow we can now also relate the dust content of contaminated snow to the penetration depth of sunlight into the mixture. Equally important, however, is our observation that light penetration through the mixture is dramatically affected by small-scale inhomogeneities.

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