Skip to main content

Southeast Greenland high accumulation rates derived from firn cores and ground-penetrating radar

  • Clément Miège (a1), Richard R. Forster (a1), Jason E. Box (a2) (a3), Evan W. Burgess (a1), Joseph R. McConnell (a4), Daniel R. Pasteris (a4) and Vandy B. Spikes (a5)...

Despite containing only 14% of the Greenland ice sheet by area, the southeastern sector has the highest accumulation rates, and hence receives ∼30% of the total snow accumulation. We present accumulation rates obtained during our 2010 Arctic Circle Traverse derived from three 50 m firn cores dated using geochemical analysis. We tracked continuous internal reflection horizons between the firn cores using a 400 MHz ground-penetrating radar (GPR). GPR data combined with depth-age scales from the firn cores provide accumulation rates along a 70 km transect. We followed an elevation gradient from ∼2350 to ∼1830m to understand how progressive surface melt may affect the ability to chemically date the firn cores and trace the internal layers with GPR. From the firn cores, we find a 52% (∼0.43 m w.e. a-1) increase in average snow accumulation and greater interannual variability at the lower site than the upper site. The GPR profiling reveals that accumulation rates are influenced by topographic undulations on the surface, with up to 23% variability over 7 km. These measurements confirm the presence of high accumulation rates in the southeast as predicted by the calibrated regional climate model Polar MM5.

  • 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.

      Southeast Greenland high accumulation rates derived from firn cores and ground-penetrating radar
      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 <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Southeast Greenland high accumulation rates derived from firn cores and ground-penetrating radar
      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 <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Southeast Greenland high accumulation rates derived from firn cores and ground-penetrating radar
      Available formats
Hide All
Appenzeller, C, Schwander, J, Sommer, S and Stocker, TF (1998) The North Atlantic oscillation and its imprint on precipitation and ice accumulation in Greenland. Geophys. Res. Lett., 25(11), 19391942
Arcone, SA, Spikes, VB, Hamilton, GS and Mayewski, PA (2004) Stratigraphic continuity in 400 MHz short-pulse radar profiles of firn in West Antarctica. Ann. Glaciol., 39, 195200 (doi: 10.3189/172756404781813925)
Arcone, SA, Spikes, VB and Hamilton, GS (2005a) 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 (doi: 10.3189/172756505781829151)
Arcone, SA, Spikes, VB and Hamilton, GS (2005b) Phase structure of radar stratigraphic horizons within Antarctic firn. Ann. Glaciol., 41, 1016 (doi: 10.3189/172756405781813267)
Bales, RC, McConnell, JR, Mosley-Thompson, E and Csatho, B (2001) Accumulation over the Greenland ice sheet from historical and recent records. J. Geophys. Res., 106(D24), 33 81333 825 (doi: 10.1029/2001JD900153)
Bales, RC and 8 others (2009) Annual accumulation for Greenland updated using ice core data developed during 2000–2006 and analysis of daily coastal meteorological data. J. Geophys. Res., 114(D6), D06301 (doi: 10.1029/2008JD010600)
Bamber, JL, Ekholm, S and Krabill, WB (2001) A new, high-resolution digital elevation model of Greenland fully validated with airborne laser altimeter data. J. Geophys. Res., 106(B4), 67336745 (doi: 10.1029/2000JB900365)
Banta, JR and McConnell, JR (2007) Annual accumulation over recent centuries at four sites in central Greenland. J. Geophys. Res., 112(D10), D10114 (doi: 10.1029/2006JD007887)
Benson, CS (1962) Stratigraphic studies in the snow and firn of the Greenland ice sheet. SIPRE Res. Rep. 70, 7683
Box, JE (2005) Greenland ice sheet surface mass-balance variability: 1991–2003. Ann. Glaciol., 42, 9094 (doi: 10.3189/ 172756405781812772)
Box, JE and 7 others (2005) Extreme precipitation events over Greenland: consequences to ice sheet mass balance. In Preprints, Eighth Conference on Polar Meteorology and Oceanography. American Meteorological Society, San Diego, CA
Box, JE and 8 others (2006) Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance variability (1988–2004) from calibrated Polar MM5 output. J. Climate, 19(12), 27832800 (doi: 10.1175/JCLI3738.1)
Box, JE, Yang, L, Bromwich, DH and Bai, L-S (2009) Greenland ice sheet surface air temperature variability: 1840–2007. J. Climate, 22(14), 40294049 (doi: 10.1175/2009JCLI2816.1)
Box, JE and 10 others (2013) Greenland ice sheet mass balance reconstruction. Part I: net snow accumulation (1600–2009). J. Climate, 26(6) (doi: 10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00373.1)
Brown, J, Harper, J, Pfeffer, WT, Humphrey, N and Bradford, J (2011) High-resolution study of layering within the percolation and soaked facies of the Greenland ice sheet. Ann. Glaciol., 52(59), 3542
Burgess, EW and 6 others (2010) A spatially calibrated model of annual accumulation rate on the Greenland Ice Sheet (1958–2007). J. Geophys. Res., 115(F2), F02004 (doi: 10.1029/ 2009JF001293)
Calanca, P, Gilgen, H, Ekholm, S and Ohmura, A (2000) Gridded temperature and accumulation distributions for Greenland for use in cryospheric models. Ann. Glaciol., 31, 118120 (doi: 10.3189/172756400781820345)
Chen, JL, Wilson, CR and Tapley, BD (2011) Interannual variability of Greenland ice losses from satellite gravimetry. J. Geophys. Res., 116(B7), B07406 (doi: 10.1029/2010JB007789)
Chen, JL, Johannessen, OM, Wang, H and Ohmura, A (2011) Accumulation over the Greenland Ice Sheet as represented in reanalysis data. Adv. Atmos. Sci., 28(5), 10301038 (doi: 10.1007/s00376-010-0150-9)
Cogley, JG (2004) Greenland accumulation: an error model. J. Geophys. Res., 109(D18), D18101 (doi: 10.1029/ 2003JD004449)
Dunse, T, Eisen, O, Helm, V, Rack, W, Steinhage, D and Parry, V (2008) Characteristics and small-scale variability of GPR signals and their relation to snow accumulation in Greenland’s percolation zone. J. Glaciol., 54(185), 333342 (doi: 10.3189/ 002214308784886207)
Eisen, O, Wilhelms, F, Nixdorf, U and Miller, H (2003) Revealing the nature of radar reflections in ice: DEP-based FDTD forward modeling. Geophys. Res. Lett., 30(5), 12181221
Eisen, O, Wilhelms, F, Steinhage, D and Schwander, J (2006) Improved method to determine radio-echo sounding reflector depths from ice-core profiles of permittivity and conductivity. J. Glaciol., 52(177), 299310 (doi: 10.3189/172756506781828674)
Ettema, J and 6 others (2009) Higher surface mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet revealed by high-resolution climate modelling. Geophys. Res. Lett., 36(12), L12501 (doi: 10.1029/ 2009GL038110)
Ettema, J, Van den Broeke, MR, Van Meijgaard, E, Van de Berg, WJ, Box, JE and Steffen, K (2010) Climate of the Greenland ice sheet using a high-resolution climate model: Part 1 : evaluation. Cryos. Discuss., 4(4), 511627 (doi: 10.5194/tc-4-511-2010)
Fettweis, X (2007) Reconstruction of the 1979–2006 Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance using the regional climate model MAR. Cryosphere, 1(1), 2140 (doi: 10.5194/tc-1-21-2007)
Hanna, E, McConnell, J, Das, S, Cappelen, J and Stevens, A (2006) Observed and modelled Greenland Ice Sheet snow accumulation, 1958–2003, and links with regional climate forcing. J. Climate, 19(3), 344358
Hanna, E and 8 others (2008) Increased runoff from melt from the Greenland Ice Sheet: a response to global warming. J. Climate, 21(2), 331341
Hanna, E and 12 others (2011) Greenland Ice Sheet surface mass balance 1870 to 2010 based on Twentieth Century Reanalysis, and links with global climate forcing. J. Geophys. Res., 116(D24), D24121 (doi: 10.1029/2011JD016387)
Hines, KM and Bromwich, DH (2008) Development and testing of polar weather research and forecasting (WRF) model. Part I: Greenland ice sheet meteorology. Mon. Weather Rev., 136(6), 19711989
Horhold, MW, Kipfstuhl, S, Wilhelms, F, Freitag, J and Frenzel, A (2011) The densification of layered polar firn. J. Geophys. Res., 116(F1), F01001 (doi: 10.1029/2009JF001630)
Humphrey, NF, Harper, JT and Pfeffer, WT (2012) Thermal tracking of meltwater retention in Greenland’s accumulation area. J. Geophys. Res., 117(F1), F01010 (doi: 10.1029/ 2011JF002083)
Hurrell, JW (1995) Decadal trends in the North Atlantic Oscillation: regional temperatures and precipitation. Science, 269(5224), 676679 (doi: 10.1126/science.269.5224.676)
Hutterli, MA, Raible, CC and Stocker, T (2005) Reconstructing climate variability from Greenland ice sheet accumulation: an ERA40 study. Geophys. Res. Lett., 32(23), L23712, 1–4 (doi: 10.1029/2005GL024745)
King, JC, Anderson, PS, Vaughan, DG, Mann, GW, Mobbs, SD and Vosper, SB (2004) Wind-borne redistribution of snow across an Antarctic ice rise. J. Geophys. Res., 109(D11), D11104 (doi: 10.1029/2003JD004361.)
Kovacs, A, Gow, AJ and Morey, RM (1995) The in situ dielectric constant of polar firn revisited. Cold Reg. Sci. Technol., 23(3), 245256 (doi: 10.1016/0165-232X(94)00016-Q)
Leuschen, C and Allen, C (2011) IceBridge MCoRDS L2 Ice Thickness. NASA Distributed Active Archive Center, National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder, CO
Levitus, S, Antonov, JI, Boyer, TP, Locarnini, RA, Garcia, HE and Mishonov, AV (2009) Global ocean heat content 1955–2008 in light of recently revealed instrumentation problems. Geophys. Res. Lett., 36(7), L07608 (doi: 10.1029/2008GL037155)
Lucas-Picher, P, Wulff-Nielsen, M, Christensen, JH, Aðalsgeirsdottir, G, Mottram, R and Simonsen, SB (2012) Very high resolution regional climate model simulations over Greenland: identifying added value. J. Geophys. Res., 117(D2), D02108 (doi: 10.1029/ 2011JD016267)
McConnell, JR and Bales, RC (2004) Investigation of chemical transfer processes between atmosphere and snow at South Pole. (NOAA/CMDL Summary Report 27) Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, CO, 153154
McConnell, JR and 6 others (2001) Annual net snow accumulation over southern Greenland from 1975 to 1998. J. Geophys. Res., 106(D24), 33,82733,838
McConnell, JR, Lamorey, GW, Lambert, SW and Taylor, KC (2002) Continuous ice-core chemical analyses using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Environ. Sci. Technol., 36(1), 711 (doi: 10.1021/es011088z)
McConnell, JR and 9 others (2007) 20th-century industrial black carbon emissions altered Arctic climate forcing. Science, 317(5843), 13811384 (doi: 10.1126/science.1144856)
Meehl, GA and 12 others (2007) Global climate projections. In Solomon, S and 7 others eds. Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 747845
Mosley-Thompson, E and 8 others (2001) Local to regional-scale variability of annual net accumulation on the Greenland ice sheet from PARCA cores. J. Geophys. Res., 106(D24), 33 83933 851
Mosley-Thompson, ES, Readinger, CR, Craigmile, P, Thompson, LG and Calder, CA (2005) Regional sensitivity of Greenland precipitation to NAO variability. Geophys. Res. Lett., 32(24), L24707 (doi: 10.1029/2005GL024776)
Ohmura, A and Reeh, N (1991) New precipitation and accumulation maps for Greenland. J. Glaciol., 37(125), 140148
Ohmura, A, Calanca, P, Wild, M and Anklin, M (1999) Precipitation, accumulation and mass balance of Greenland ice sheet. Z. Gletscherkd. Glazialgeol., 35(1), 120
Parry, V and 6 others (2007) Investigations of meltwater refreezing and density variations in the snowpack and firn within the percolation zone of the Greenland ice sheet. Ann. Glaciol., 46, 6168 (doi: 10.3189/172756407782871332)
Rae, JGL and 14 others (2012) Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance: evaluating simulations and making projections with regional climate models. Cryosphere, 6(3), 20592113 (doi: 10.5194/tcd-6-2059-2012)
Rignot, E and Mouginot, J (2012) Ice flow in Greenland for the International Polar Year 2008–2009. Geophys. Res. Lett., 39(11), L11501 (doi: 10.1029/2012GL051634)
Rignot, E, Velicogna, I, Van den Broeke, MR, Monaghan, A and Lenaerts, J (2011) Acceleration of the contribution of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to sea level rise. Geophys. Res. Lett., 38(5), L05503 (doi: 10.1029/2011GL046583)
Sørensen, LS and 7 others (2011) Mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet (2003–2008) from ICESat data – the impact of interpolation, sampling and firn density. Cryosphere, 5(1), 173186 (doi: 10.5194/tc-5-173-2011)
Spikes, VB, Hamilton, GS, Arcone, SA, Kaspari, S and Mayewski, P (2004) Variability in accumulation rates from GPR profiling on the West Antarctic plateau. Ann. Glaciol., 39, 238244 (doi: 10.3189/172756404781814393)
Spikes, VB, McConnell, JR and Banta, JR (2007) Annual layer mapping and net snowfall measurements across the southern Greenland ice sheet using shallow radar and ice cores. [Abstract C11A-0087] Am. Geophys. Union, Fall Meet.
Steffen, K and Box, J (2001) Surface climatology of the Greenland ice sheet: Greenland Climate Network 1995–1999. J. Geophys. Res., 106(D24), 33 95133 964 (doi: 10.1029/ 2001JD900161)
Van den Broeke, M and 8 others (2009) Partitioning recent Greenland mass loss. Science, 326(5955), 984986 (doi: 10.1126/science.1178176)
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: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed