Extraordinary blowing snow transport events in East Antarctica

In the convergence slope/coastal areas of Antarctica, a large fraction of snow is continuously eroded and exported by wind to the atmosphere and into the ocean. Snow transport observations from instruments and satellite images were acquired at the wind convergence zone of Terra Nova Bay (East Antarctica) throughout 2006 and 2007. Snow transport features are well-distinguished in satellite images and can extend vertically up to 200 m as first-order quantitatively estimated by driftometer sensor FlowCaptTM. Maximum snow transportation occurs in the fall and winter seasons. Snow transportation (drift/blowing) was recorded for*80% of the time, and 20% of time recorded, the flux is [10-2 kg m-2 s-1 with particle density increasing with height. Cumulative snow transportation is *4 orders of magnitude higher than snow precipitation at the site. An increase in wind speed and transportation (*30%) was observed in 2007, which is in agreement with a reduction in observed snow accumulation. Extensive presence of ablation surface (blue ice and wind crust) upwind and downwind of the measurement site suggest that the combine processes of blowing snow sublimation and snow transport remove up to 50% of the precipitation in the coastal and slope convergence area. These phenomena represent a major negative effect on the snow accumulation, and they are not sufficiently taken into account in studies of surface mass balance. The observed wind-driven ablation explains the inconsistency between atmospheric model precipitation and measured snow accumulation value.


Publication status:
Authors: Scarchilli, C., Frezzotti, M., Grigioni, P., De Silvestri, L., Agnoletto, L., Dolci, S.

1 January, 2009
Climate Dynamics / 34
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):