Skip to main content

An 860 km surface mass-balance profile on the East Antarctic plateau derived by GPR

  • Karsten Müller (a1), Anna Sinisalo (a1), Helgard Anschütz (a2), Svein-Erik Hamran (a1), Jon-Ove Hagen (a1), Joseph R. McConnell (a3) and Daniel R. Pasteris (a3)...

Snow accumulation and its variability on the East Antarctic plateau are poorly understood due to sparse and regionally confined measurements. We present a 5.3 GHz (C-band) ground-penetrating radar (GPR) profile with a total length of 860 km recovered during the joint Norwegian–US International Polar Year traverse 2007/08. Mean surface mass balance (SMB) over the last 200 years was derived from the GPR data by identifying the volcanic deposition of the Tambora eruption in 1815. It varies between 9.1 and 37.7 kg m−2 a−1 over the profile, with a mean of 23.7 kg m−2 a−1 and a standard deviation of 4.7 kg m−2 a−1. The 200 year SMB estimated is significantly lower than most of the SMB estimates over shorter time periods in this region. This can be partly explained by a SMB minimum in the vicinity of the ice divide. However, it is more likely that a recent increase in SMB observed by several studies is largely responsible for the observed discrepancy.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      An 860 km surface mass-balance profile on the East Antarctic plateau derived by GPR
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      An 860 km surface mass-balance profile on the East Antarctic plateau derived by GPR
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      An 860 km surface mass-balance profile on the East Antarctic plateau derived by GPR
      Available formats
Hide All
Anschütz H. and 7 others. In press. Revisiting sites of the South Pole Queen Maud Land Traverses (SPQMLT) in East Antarctica: accumulation data from shallow firn cores. J. Geophys. Res. (10.1029/2009JD012204.)
Arcone S.A., Spikes V.B. and Hamilton G.S.. 2005a. Phase structure of radar stratigraphic horizons within Antarctic firn. Ann. Glaciol., 41, 1016.
Arcone S.A., Spikes V.B. and Hamilton G.S.. 2005b. Stratigraphic variation in polar firn caused by differential accumulation and ice flow: interpretation of a 400 MHz short-pulse radar profile from West Antarctica. J. Glaciol., 51(174), 407422.
Arthern R.J., Winebrenner D.P. and Vaughan D.G.. 2006. Antarctic snow accumulation mapped using polarization of 4.3 cm wavelength microwave emission. J . Geophys. Res., 111(D6), D06107. (10.1029/2004JD005667.)
Comiso J.C. 2000. Variability and trends in Antarctic surface temperatures from in situ and satellite infrared measurements. J. Climate, 13(10), 16741696.
Davis C.H., Li Y., McConnell J.R., Frey M.M. and Hanna E.. 2005. Snowfall-driven growth in East Antarctic ice sheet mitigates recent sea-level rise. Science, 308(5730), 18981901.
Eisen O. and 15 others. 2008. Ground-based measurements of spatial and temporal variability of snow accumulation in East Antarctica. Rev. Geophys., 46(RG2), RG2001. (10.1029/2006RG000218.)
Endo Y. and Fujiwara K.. 1973. Characteristics of the snow cover in East Antarctica along the route of the JARE South Pole traverse and factors controlling such characteristics. JARE Sci. Rep., Ser. C., 7, 138.
Frezzotti M., Gandolfi S., La Marca F. and Urbini S.. 2002. Snow dunes and glazed surfaces in Antarctica: new field and remote-sensing data. Ann. Glaciol., 34, 8188.
Frezzotti M. and 13 others. 2005. Spatial and temporal variability of snow accumulation in East Antarctica from traverse data. J. Glaciol., 51(172), 113124.
Fujita S. and 6 others. 1999. Nature of radio-echo layering in the Antarctic ice sheet detected by a two-frequency experiment. J. Geophys. Res., 104(B6), 13,01313,024.
Goldman H.V. 2008. From the editor: halfway through the IPY - halfway for an Antarctic traverse. Polar Res., 27, 16.
Hamran S.-E. and Langley K.. 2006. C-band polarimetric GPR. In Daniels J.J. and Chen C.-C., eds. Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Ground Penetrating Radar, 19–22 June 2006, Columbus, OH. CD-ROM.
Hofstede C.M. and 10 others. 2004. Firn accumulation records for the past 1000 years on the basis of dielectric profiling of six cores from Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica. J. Glaciol., 50(169), 279291.
Isaksson E., Karlén W., Gundestrup N., Mayewski P., Whitlow S. and Twickler M.. 1996. A century of accumulation and temperature changes in Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica. J. Geophys. Res., 101(D3), 70857094.
Jezek K.C. and Product Team RAMP. 2002. RAMP AMM-1 SAR image mosaic of Antarctica. Fairbanks, AK, Alaska SAR Facility, in association with the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder, CO.
King J.C., Anderson P.S., Vaughan D.G., Mann G.W., Mobbs S.D. and Vosper S.B.. 2004. Wind-borne redistribution of snow across an Antarctic ice rise. J. Geophys. Res., 109(D11), D11104. (10.1029/2003JD004361.)
Kovacs A., Gow A.J. and Morey R.M.. 1995. The in situ dielectric constant of polar firn revisited. Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 23(3), 245256.
Langley K. and 6 others. 2007. Use of C-band ground penetrating radar to determine backscatter sources within glaciers. IEEE Trans. Geosci. Remote Sens., 45(5), 12361246.
McConnell J.R. and Edwards R.. 2008. Coal burning leaves toxic heavy metal legacy in the Arctic. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA (PNAS), 105(34), 12,14012,144.
McConnell J.R., Lamorey G.W., Lambert S.W. and Taylor K.C.. 2002. Continuous ice-core chemical analyses using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Environ. Sci. Technol., 36(1), 711.
Monaghan A.J. and 15 others. 2006. Insignificant change in Antarctic snowfall since the International Geophysical Year. Science, 313(5788), 827831.
Mosley-Thompson E., Paskievitch J.F., Gow A.J. and Thompson L.G.. 1999. Late 20th century increase in South Pole snow accumulation. J. Geophys. Res., 104(D4), 38773886.
Nye J.F. 1963. Correction factor for accumulation measured by the thickness of the annual layers in an ice sheet. J. Glaciol., 4(36), 785788.
Oerter H., Graf W., Wilhelms F., Minikin A. and Miller H.. 1999. Accumulation studies on Amundsenisen, Dronning Maud Land, by means of tritium, dielectric profiling and stable-isotope measurements: first results from the 1995–96 and 1996–97 field seasons. Ann. Glaciol., 29, 19.
Picciotto E., Crozaz G. and De Breuck W.. 1971. Accumulation on the South Pole–Queen Maud Land traverse, 1964–1968. In Crary A.P., ed. Antarctic snow and ice studies II. Washington, DC, American Geophysical Union, 257315. (Antarctic Research Series 16.)
Richardson-Näslund C. 2004. Spatial characteristics of snow accumulation in Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica. Global Planet. Change, 42(1–4), 3143.
Rotschky G., Eisen O., Wilhelms F., Nixdorf U. and Oerter H.. 2004. Spatial distribution of surface mass-balance on Amundsenisen plateau, Antarctica, derived from ice-penetrating radar studies. Ann. Glaciol., 39, 265270.
Scambos T., Haran T., Frezzotti M., Jezek K., Long D. and Farness K.. 2008. ‘Wind glaze’ extent on the East Antarctic Plateau: implications for the ice mass-balance of East Antarctica. Geophys. Res. Abstr., 10. (EGU2008-A-104755.)
Spikes V.B., Hamilton G.S., Arcone S.A., Kaspari S. and Mayewski P.. 2004. Variability in accumulation rates from GPR profiling on the West Antarctic plateau. Ann. Glaciol., 39, 238244.
Stenni B. and 6 others. 2002. Eight centuries of volcanic signal and climate change at Talos Dome (East Antarctica). J. Geophys. Res., 107(D9), 4076. (10.1029/2000JD000317.)
Takahashi S., Ageta Y., Fujii Y. and Watanabe O.. 1994. Surface mass balance in east Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, observed by Japanese Antarctic Research Expeditions. Ann. Glaciol., 20, 242248.
Traufetter F., Oerter H., Fischer H., Weller R. and Miller H.. 2004. Spatio-temporal variability in volcanic sulphate deposition over the past 2 kyr in snow pits and firn cores from Amundsenisen, Antarctica. J. Glaciol. , 50(168), 137146.
Van de Berg W.J., van den Broeke M.R., Reijmer C.H. and van Meijgaard E.. 2006. Reassessment of the Antarctic surface mass balance using calibrated output of a regional atmospheric climate model. J. Geophys. Res., 111(D11), D11104. (10.1029/2005JD006495.)
Van Lipzig N.P.M., Turner J., Colwell S.R. and van den Broeke M.R.. 2004. The near-surface wind field over the Antarctic continent. Int. J. Climatol., 24(15), 19731982.
Vaughan D.G., Bamber J.L., Giovinetto M.B., Russell J. and Cooper A.P.R.. 1999. Reassessment of net surface mass balance in Antarctica. J. Climate, 12(4), 933946.
Zumberge J.F., Heflin M.B., Jefferson D.C., Watkins M.M. and Webb F.H.. 1997. Precise point positioning for the efficient and robust analysis of GPS data from large networks. J. Geophys. Res., 102(B3), 50055017.
Zwally H.J. and 7 others. 2005. Mass changes of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and shelves and contributions to sea-level rise: 1992–2002. J. Glaciol., 51(175), 509527.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Annals of Glaciology
  • ISSN: 0260-3055
  • EISSN: 1727-5644
  • URL: /core/journals/annals-of-glaciology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 11 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 15 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 14th September 2017 - 22nd January 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.