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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.

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Annals of Glaciology
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