Atmospheric aerosol particles like mineral dust, volcanic ash and combustion particles can reduce Earth’s snow and ice albedo considerably even by very small amounts of deposited particle mass. In this study, a new laboratory method is applied to measure the spectral light absorption coefficient of airborne particles that are released from fresh snow samples by an efficient nebulizing system. Threewavelength photoacoustic absorption spectroscopy is combined with refractory black carbon (BC) mass analysis to determine the snow mass-specific and BC mass-specific absorption cross sections. Fullerene soot in water suspensions are used for the characterization of the method and for the determination of the mass-specific absorption cross section of this BC reference material. The analysis of 31 snow samples collected after fresh snowfall events at a high-altitude Alpine research station reveals a significant discrepancy between the measured snow mass-specific absorption cross section and the cross section that is expected from the BC mass data, indicating that non-BC light-absorbing particles are present in the snow. Mineral dust and brown carbon (BrC) are identified as possible candidates for the non-BC particle mass based on the wavelength dependence of the measured absorption. ... mehrFor one sample this result is confirmed by environmental scanning electron microscopy and by single-particle fluorescence measurements, which both indicate a high fraction of biogenic and organic particle mass in the sample.