Publication Date

Summer 2016

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

John All (Director), Jun Yan, Aaron Celestian, and Carl Schmitt

Degree Program

Department of Geography and Geology

Degree Type

Master of Science


Glaciers are a major source of freshwater around the world, but they are melting at an increased rate due to atmospheric warming resulting from anthropogenic climate change. In addition to temperature increases, light-absorbing particulates on glaciers also are contributing to glacial melt. This research examines how black carbon, released into the air through partial combustion of biofuels, is affecting the surface albedo of glaciers. I also delineate possible sources of black carbon in the Cordillera Blanca region of Peru. Ground data were collected each year from 2011 to 2013 during the local dry season. Effective black carbon (eBC) values were determined using the Light Absorption Heating Method and satellite-derived albedo values were retrieved from NASA’s MODIS MOD10A1 data. Effective black carbon (eBC) values and albedo levels were moderately correlated, showing that albedo decreases with an increase of black carbon, and that this impact can be measured using satellite instruments. Values of eBC did not correlate with spatial proximity to mines, but did correlate with proximity to Huaraz, which likely is the major source of light-absorbing particulates in the region. Further research would benefit from a more extensive source dataset and surface albedo measurements over different seasons.


Environmental Monitoring | Geology | Glaciology