Accession Number:



Changes in the Albedo of the Pegasus and Phoenix Runways, 2000-2017

Descriptive Note:

Technical Report

Corporate Author:

U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory Hanover United States

Report Date:


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Albedo is the ratio of total hemispherical reflected upwelling to incoming down welling radiative flux or irradiance at a surface. For operations on the McMurdo Ice Shelf, Antarctica, albedo is a controlling factor. Impurities such as dust, soot, mineral, and other organic deposits on a snow or ice surface can dramatically lower albedo, increase solar energy absorption in the ice shelf, and significantly alter the energy balance, resulting in increased melting, snow density variations, and compromised structural integrity of the snow and ice matrix. The occurrence of such impurities at Pegasus Runway may have been a factor in its decline and replacement with the Phoenix Runway in the 20162017 field season. Therefore, the National Science Foundation NSF requested that the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory CRREL establish a long-term record of surface albedo at the Pegasus and Phoenix Runway sites. To accomplish this, data from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer MODIS satellite was used. MODIS satellite data has a daily temporal resolution and a significant period of record 2000present. Additionally, its narrowband surface reflectance may be used as a proxy for albedo. This report documents the results of these analyses.

Subject Categories:

  • Snow, Ice and Permafrost

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