Snow Loss Into Leads in Arctic Sea Ice: Minimal in Typical Wintertime Conditions, but High During a Warm and Windy Snowfall Event

The amount of snow on Arctic sea ice impacts the ice mass budget. Wind redistribution of snow into open water in leads is hypothesized to cause significant wintertime snow loss. However, there are no direct measurements of snow loss into Arctic leads. We measured the snow lost in four leads in the Central Arctic in winter 2020. We find, contrary to expectations, that under typical winter conditions, minimal snow was lost into leads. However, during a cyclone that delivered warm air temperatures, high winds, and snowfall, 35.0 ± 1.1 cm snow water equivalent (SWE) was lost into a lead (per unit lead area). This corresponded to a removal of 0.7–1.1 cm SWE from the entire surface—∼6%–10% of this site's annual snow precipitation. Warm air temperatures, which increase the length of time that wintertime leads remain unfrozen, may be an underappreciated factor in snow loss into leads.


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Authors: Clemens‐Sewall, David, Polashenski, Chris, Frey, Markus M. ORCIDORCID record for Markus M. Frey, Cox, Christopher J., Granskog, Mats A., Macfarlane, Amy R., Fons, Steven W., Schmale, Julia, Hutchings, Jennifer K., von Albedyll, Luisa, Arndt, Stefanie, Schneebeli, Martin, Perovich, Don

On this site: Markus Frey
28 June, 2023
Geophysical Research Letters / 50
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