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A coastal transect of McMurdo Dry Valleys (Antarctica) snow and firn: marine and terrestrial influences on glaciochemistry

  • B.R. Williamson (a1), K.J. Kreutz (a1), P.A. Mayewski (a1), N.A.N. Bertler (a1) (a2), S. Sneed (a1), M. Handley (a1) and D. Introne (a1)...


Samples of snow and firn from accumulation zones on Clark, Commonwealth, Blue and Victoria Upper Glaciers in the McMurdo Dry Valleys (∼77–78º S, 161–164º E), Antarctica, are evaluated chemically and isotopically to determine the relative importance of local (site-specific) factors vs regional-scale influences in defining glaciochemistry. Spatial variation in snow and firn chemistry confirms documented trends within individual valleys regarding major-ion deposition relative to elevation and to distance from the coast. Sodium and methylsulfonate (MS), for example, follow a decreasing gradient with distance from the coast along the axis of Victoria Valley (350–119 µg L−1 for Na+; 33–14 µg L−1 for MS); a similar pattern exists between Commonwealth and Newall Glaciers in the Asgaard Range. When comparing major-ion concentrations (e.g. Na+, MS, Ca2+) or trace metals (e.g. Al, Fe) among different valleys, however, site-specific exposures to marine and local terrestrial chemical sources play a dominant role. Because chemical signals at all sites respond to particulates with varying mixtures of marine and terrestrial sources, each of these influences on site glaciochemistry must be considered when drawing temporal climate inferences on regional scales.

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