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Glacio-meteorological conditions in the vicinity of the Belgian Princess Elisabeth Station, Antarctica

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 August 2009

Frank Pattyn*
Laboratoire de Glaciologie, Département des Sciences de la Terre et de l’Environnement, Université Libre de Bruxelles, CP 160/03, Avenue F.D. Roosevelt 50, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium
Kenichi Matsuoka
Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington, Box 35130, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
Johan Berte
International Polar Foundation, Rue des deux gares 120A, B-1070 Brussels, Belgium


During two consecutive reconnaissance surveys in 2004 and 2005 and a revisit in 2008, the glaciological and meteorological conditions in the vicinity of the new Belgian Princess Elisabeth Station (71°57′S; 23°20′E) on Utsteinen Ridge were investigated. We set up an automatic weather station, measured the ice thickness around the Utsteinen Ridge, and established a mass balance stake network. These baseline investigations show that Utsteinen Ridge is a relatively sheltered spot from the main katabatic winds. Furthermore, winter temperature conditions are rather mild, confirming the coreless winter conditions of the Antarctic ice sheet. Mass balance is generally low (near zero) with a small accumulation to the east and relatively little ablation to the west of Utsteinen Ridge. Ice flow in the vicinity of the station is also minimal, since the Sør Rondane Mountains upstream of the station block most of the ice flow, a feature that is most apparent in the area where the station is situated. Measurements of the surface topography separated by four years show that the construction of the station seems to have a limited effect on the redistribution of snow around it. In view of the sheltered and safe ice conditions, the area is an ideal place for deploying field activities.

Physical Sciences
Copyright © Antarctic Science Ltd 2009

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