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Journal Article

Snowfall-albedo feedbacks could have led to deglaciation of Snowball Earth starting from mid-latitudes

MPS-Authors
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de Vrese,  Philipp
Climate-Biogeosphere Interaction, The Land in the Earth System, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

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Brovkin,  Victor
Climate-Biogeosphere Interaction, The Land in the Earth System, MPI for Meteorology, Max Planck Society;

Fulltext (public)

s43247-021-00160-4.pdf
(Publisher version), 2MB

Supplementary Material (public)

43247_2021_160_MOESM1_ESM.pdf
(Supplementary material), 6MB

Citation

de Vrese, P., Stacke, T., Caves Rugenstein, J. K., Goodman, J., & Brovkin, V. (2021). Snowfall-albedo feedbacks could have led to deglaciation of Snowball Earth starting from mid-latitudes. Communications Earth & Environment, 2: 91. doi:10.1038/s43247-021-00160-4.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-85C2-6
Abstract
Simple and complex climate models suggest a hard snowball – a completely ice-covered planet – is one of the steady-states of Earth’s climate. However, a seemingly insurmountable challenge to the hard-snowball hypothesis lies in the difficulty in explaining how the planet could have exited the glaciated state within a realistic range of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. Here, we use simulations with the Earth system model MPI-ESM to demonstrate that terminal deglaciation could have been triggered by high dust deposition fluxes. In these simulations, deglaciation is not initiated in the tropics, where a strong hydrological cycle constantly regenerates fresh snow at the surface, which limits the dust accumulation and snow aging, resulting in a high surface albedo. Instead, comparatively low precipitation rates in the mid-latitudes in combination with high maximum temperatures facilitate lower albedos and snow dynamics that – for extreme dust fluxes – trigger deglaciation even at present-day carbon dioxide levels