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Snow surface height variations on the Antarctic ice sheet in Princess Elizabeth Land, Antarctica: 1 year of data from an automatic weather station

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The net surface snow accumulation on the Antarctic ice sheet is determined by a combination of precipitation, sublimation and wind redistribution. We present a 1 year record of hourly snow-height measurements that shows its seasonal variability. The measurements were made with an ultrasonic sensor mounted on an automatic weather station (AWS) installed at LGB69, Princess Elizabeth Land, Antarctica (70.835° S, 77.075° E; 1850 m a.s.l.). The average accumulation at this site is approximately 0.70 m snow a−1. Throughout the winter, between April and September, there was little change in surface snow height. The strongest accumulation occurred during the period October–March, with four episodic increases occurring during 2002. These episodic events coincided with obvious humidity 'pulses' and decreases of incoming solar radiation as recorded by the AWS. Observations of the total cloud amount at Davis station, 160 km north-northeast of LGB69, showed good correlation with major accumulation events recorded at LGB69. There was an obvious anticorrelation between the lowest cloud height at Davis and the daily accumulation rate at LGB69. Although there was no correlation over the total year between wind speed and accumulation at LGB69, large individual accumulation events are associated with episodes of strong wind. Strong accumulation events at LGB69 are associated with major storms in the region and inland transport of moist air masses from the coast.

Document Type: Research Article


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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