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Meteorological conditions over Antarctic blue-ice areas and their influence on the local surface mass balance

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Abstract:

This paper addresses the causes of the prevailing meteorological conditions observed over an Antarctic blue-ice area and their effect on the surface mass balance. Over blue-ice areas, net accumulation is zero and ablation occurs mainly through sublimation. Sublimation rates are much higher than over adjacent snowfields. The meteorological conditions favourable for high sublimation rates (warm, dry and gusty) are due to the specific orographic setting of this blue-ice area, with usually a steep upwind mountainous slope causing strong adiabatic heating. Diabatic warming due to radiation, and entrainment of warm air from aloft into the boundary layer augment the warming. The prevailing warm, dry conditions explain roughly 50% of the difference in sublimation, and the different characteristics of blue ice (mainly its lower albedo) the other 50%. Most of the annual sublimation (~70%) takes place during the short summer (mainly in daytime), with winter ablation being restricted to occasional warm, dry föhn-like events. The additional moisture is effectively removed by entrainment and horizontal advection, which are maximum over the blue-ice area. Low-frequency turbulent motions induced by the upwind mountains enhance the vertical turbulent transports. Strong gusts and high peak wind speeds over blue-ice areas cause high potential snowdrift transports, which can easily remove the total precipitation, thereby maintaining zero accumulation.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3189/172756501781832557

Publication date: 2001-01-01

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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