Spring Snow-Albedo Feedback Analysis Over the Third Pole: Results From Satellite Observation and CMIP5 Model Simulations
The snow-albedo feedback is a crucial component in high-altitude cryospheric change but is poorly quantified over the Third Pole, encompassing the Karakoram and Tibetan Plateau. Here we present an analysis of present-day and future spring snow-albedo feedback over the Third Pole, using a 28 year satellite-based albedo and the latest climate model simulations. We show that present-day spring snow-albedo feedback strength is primarily determined by the decrease in albedo due to snow metamorphosis, rather than that due to reduced snow cover in the Karakoram, but not found in Southeastern Tibet. We further demonstrate an emergent relationship between snow-albedo feedback from the seasonal cycle and that from climate change across models. Combined with contemporary satellite-based snow-albedo feedback from seasonal cycle, this relationship enables us to estimate that the feedback strength for the Karakoram with a relatively high glaciated area is -2.42 ± 0.48% K-1 under an unmitigated scenario, which is much stronger than that for Southeastern Tibet (-1.64 ± 0.48% K-1) and for the Third Pole (-0.89 ± 0.44% K-1), respectively. Moreover, it is noteworthy that the magnitude of the constrained strength is only half of the unconstrained model estimate for the Third Pole, suggesting that current climate models generally overestimate the feedback of spring snow change to temperature change based on the unmitigated scenario.