Extent of low-accumulation 'wind glaze' areas on the East Antarctic plateau: Implications for continental ice mass balance

T.A. Scambos, M. Frezzotti, T. Haran, J. Bohlander, J.T.M. Lenaerts, M.R. Van Den Broeke, K. Jezek, D. Long, S. Urbini, K. Farness, T. Neumann, M. Albert, J.-G. Winther

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Abstract

Persistent katabatic winds form widely distributed localized areas of near-zero net surface accumulation on the East Antarctic ice sheet (EAIS) plateau. These areas have been called 'glaze' surfaces due to their polished appearance. They are typically 2-200km 2 in area and are found on leeward slopes of ice-sheet undulations and megadunes. Adjacent, leeward high-accumulation regions (isolated dunes) are generally smaller and do not compensate for the local low in surface mass balance (SMB). We use a combination of satellite remote sensing and field-gathered datasets to map the extent of wind glaze in the EAIS above 1500m elevation. Mapping criteria are derived from distinctive surface and subsurface characteristics of glaze areas resulting from many years of intense annual temperature cycling without significant burial. Our results show that 11.2±1.7%, or 950±143×10 3 km 2, of the EAIS above 1500m is wind glaze. Studies of SMB interpolate values across glaze regions, leading to overestimates of net mass input. Using our derived wind-glaze extent, we estimate this excess in three recent models of Antarctic SMB at 46-82 Gt. The lowest-input model appears to best match the mean in regions of extensive wind glaze.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633 - 647
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Glaciology
Volume58
Issue number210
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth-Surface Processes

Cite this

Scambos, T. A., Frezzotti, M., Haran, T., Bohlander, J., Lenaerts, J. T. M., Van Den Broeke, M. R., Jezek, K., Long, D., Urbini, S., Farness, K., Neumann, T., Albert, M., & Winther, J-G. (2012). Extent of low-accumulation 'wind glaze' areas on the East Antarctic plateau: Implications for continental ice mass balance. Journal of Glaciology, 58(210), 633 - 647. https://doi.org/10.3189/2012JoG11J232