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Spatial distribution of surface mass balance on Amundsenisen plateau, Antarctica, derived from ice-penetrating radar studies

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The distribution of surface mass balance on Amundsenisen, Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, is investigated along a continous profile line. Ice-penetrating radar is used to map variations in ice-layer thickness within the upper 100 m of the ice sheet. The route passes several firn- and ice-core drilling sites over a distance of 320 km. Dielectric-profiling data of ice cores are used to calculate the depths of selected reflection horizons and the cumulative mass of the ice column. The local surface mass balance is determined as a temporal average, covering a time-span of almost two centuries. The findings indicate a complex accumulation pattern superimposed on a generally low surface mass balance, which is related to small-scale surface undulations. The results of the radar soundings are in general in good agreement with surface mass-balance data derived from firn-core studies. Discrepancies between these two datasets can be explained by spatial mismatch or by minor quality of either ice-core profiles or radar data. For regional comparison of radar-based accumulation data we use an accumulation distribution interpolated from point measurements. The surface mass balance varies up to 50% over short distances, with correlation lengths of <10 km. We conclude that the current utilization schemes of point sampling are only capable of reproducing local values and regional trends but provide no information on the small-scale variability of surface mass balance.

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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