Microstructure and permeability in the near-surface firn near a potential US deep-drilling site in West Antarctica

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The microstructure of snow and firn controls the transport of chemical species from the atmosphere into and out of the underlying firn. Permeability and thick-section microstructure measurements have been made from snow-pit and firn-core samples retrieved near the proposed deep-drilling site for the inland West Antarctic ice sheet. Measurements in past investigations of polar firn show that the permeability of the snow gradually increases with depth into the core to about 2 m, then decreases. In this core, there is a second maximum in permeability at approximately 12 m that is likely due to changes in meteorological conditions at the site. Either lower temperatures or higher accumulation rates in the most recent three to four decades could cause the changes in microstructure and permeability in this core. We suggest that climate shifts may alter gas records ultimately preserved in the ice because of the local climate's effect on the permeability profile.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/172756404781814320

Publication date: June 1, 2004

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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