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Wind-borne redistribution of snow across an Antarctic ice rise

By J.C. King, P.S. Anderson, D.G. Vaughan, G.W. Mann, S.D. Mobbs and S.B. Vosper


Redistribution of snow by the wind can drive spatial and temporal variations in snow accumulation that may affect the reconstruction of paleoclimate records from ice cores. In this paper we investigate how spatial variations in snow accumulation along a 13 km transect across Lyddan Ice Rise, Antarctica, are related to wind-borne snow redistribution. Lyddan Ice Rise is an approximately two-dimensional ridge which rises about 130 m above the surrounding ice shelves. Local slopes on its flanks never exceed 0.04. Despite this very smooth profile, there is a pronounced gradient in snow accumulation across the feature. Accumulation is highest on the ice shelf to the east ( climatologically upwind) of the ice rise and decreases moving westward, with the lowest accumulation seen to the west ( climatologically downwind) of the ice rise crest. Superimposed on this broad-scale gradient are large ( 20-30%), localized variations in accumulation on a scale of around 1 km that appear to be associated with local variations in surface slope of less than 0.01. The broad-scale accumulation gradient is consistent with estimates of wind-borne redistribution of snow made using wind speed observations from three automatic weather stations. The small-scale variability in accumulation is reproduced quite well using a snow transport model driven by surface winds obtained from an airflow model, providing that both the wind shear and static stability of the upwind flow are taken into account. We conclude that great care needs to be exercised in selecting ice core sites in order to avoid the possibility of blowing snow transport confounding climate reconstructions

Topics: Meteorology and Climatology, Glaciology
Publisher: American Geophysical Union
Year: 2004
DOI identifier: 10.1029/2003JD004361
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