A downscaling approach towards high-resolution surface mass balance over Antarctica
The Antarctic ice sheet surface mass balance shows high spatial variability over the coastal area. As state-of-the-art climate models usually require coarse resolutions to keep computational costs to a moderate level, they miss some local features that can be captured by field measurements. The downscaling approach adopted here consists of using a cascade of atmospheric models from large scale to meso-g scale. A regional climate model (Modèle Atmosphérique Régional) forced by meteorological reanalyses provides a diagnostic physically-based rain- and snowfall downscaling model with meteorological fields at the regional scale. Although the parameterizations invoked by the downscaling model are fairly simple, the knowledge of smallscale topography significantly improves the representation of spatial variability of precipitation and therefore that of the surface mass balance. Model evaluation is carried out with the help of shallow firn cores and snow height measurements provided by automatic weather stations. Although downscaling of blowing snow still needs to be implemented in the model, the net accumulation gradient across Law Dome summit is shown to be induced mostly by orographic effects on precipitation.