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Densification of layered firn in the ice sheet at Dome Fuji, Antarctica


In order to better understand the densification of polar firn, firn cores from the three sites within ~10 km of Dome Fuji, Antarctica, were investigated using surrogates of density: dielectric permittivities ε v and ε h at microwave frequencies with electrical fields in the vertical and horizontal planes respectively. Dielectric anisotropy Δε (=ε vε h) was then examined as a surrogate of the anisotropic geometry of firn. We find that layered densification is explained as a result of complex effects of two phenomena that commonly occur at the three sites. Basically, layers with initially smaller density and smaller geometrical anisotropy deform preferentially throughout the densification process due to textural effects. Second, layers having a higher concentration of Cl ions deform preferentially during a limited period from the near surface depths until smoothing out of layered Cl ions by diffusion. We hypothesize that Cl ions dissociated from sea salts soften firn due to modulation of dislocation movement. Moreover, firn differs markedly across the three sites in terms of strength of geometrical anisotropy, mean rate of densification and density fluctuation. We hypothesize that these differences are caused by textural effects resulting from differences in depositional conditions within various spatial scales.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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Correspondence: S. Fujita <>
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