New estimations of precipitation and surface sublimation in East Antarctica from snow accumulation measurements

Massimo Frezzotti, Michel Pourchet, Onelio Flora, Stefano Gandolfi, Michel Gay, Stefano Urbini, Christian Vincent, Silvia Becagli, Roberto Gragnani, Marco Proposito, Mirko Severi, Rita Traversi, Roberto Udisti, Michel Fily

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90 Citations (Scopus)


Surface mass balance (SMB) distribution and its temporal and spatial variability is an essential input parameter in mass balance studies. Different methods were used, compared and integrated (stake farms, ice cores, snow radar, surface morphology, remote sensing) at eight sites along a transect from Terra Nova Bay (TNB) to Dome C (DC) (East Antarctica), to provide detailed information on the SMB. Spatial variability measurements show that the measured maximum snow accumulation (SA) in a 15 km area is well correlated to firn temperature. Wind-driven sublimation processes, controlled by the surface slope in the wind direction, have a huge impact (up to 85% of snow precipitation) on SMB and are significant in terms of past, present and future SMB evaluations. The snow redistribution process is local and has a strong impact on the annual variability of accumulation. The spatial variability of SMB at the kilometre scale is one order of magnitude higher than its temporal variability (20-30%) at the centennial time scale. This high spatial variability is due to wind-driven sublimation. Compared with our SMB calculations, previous compilations generally over-estimate SMB, up to 65% in some areas. © Springer-Verlag 2004.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)803 - 813
Number of pages11
JournalClimate Dynamics
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

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