Physical properties and stratigraphy of surface snow in western Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica

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Kärkäs, Eija ; Martma, Tõnu ; Sonninen, Eloni (2005)

Information about the spatial variations of snow properties and of annual accumulation on ice sheets is important if we are to understand the results obtained from ice cores, satellite remote sensing data and changes in climate patterns. The layer structure and spatial variations of physical properties of surface snow in western Dronning Maud Land were analysed during the austral summers 1999/2000, 2000/01 and 2003/04 in fi ve different snow zones. The measurements were performed in shallow (1 - 2 m) snow pits along a transect extending 350 km from the seaward edge of the ice shelf to the polar plateau. These pits covered at least the last annual accumulation and ranged in elevation from near sea level to 2500 m a.s.l. The ?18O values and accumulation rates had a good linear correlation with the distance from the coast. The mean accumulation on the ice shelf was 312 ± 28 mm water equivalent (w.e.); in the coastal region it was 215 ± 43 mm w.e. and on the polar plateau it was 92 ± 25 mm w.e. The mean annual conductivity and grain size values decreased exponentially with increasing distance from the ice edge, by 48 %/100 km and 18 %/100 km respectively. The mean grain size varied between 1.5 and 1.8 mm. Depth hoar layers were a common phenomenon, especially under thin ice crusts, and were associated with low dielectric constant values.
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