Snow megadunes in Antarctica: Sedimentary structure and genesis

M. Frezzotti, S. Gandolfi, S. Urbini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

87 Citations (Scopus)


Megadune fields occupy large areas in the interior of the East Antarctic ice sheet and are the result of unusual snow accumulation and redistribution processes. They therefore are important to surface mass balance and ice core interpretation. Field observations (GPS, GPR, and surface measurements) have provided a detailed description of megadune sedimentation and morphology over a 70 km2 area, located 200 km east of Dome C. A combination of remote sensing analysis (using Landsat and satellite radar altimetry) and field measurements indicate that slope in the prevailing wind direction (SPWD) and climatic conditions play a crucial role in megadune genesis. The megadune areas tend to be characterized by slightly steeper regional slope and the presence of highly persistent katabatic winds. The megadunes represent 2 to 4 m amplitude waves of 2 to 5 km wavelength formed by variable net accumulation, ranging between 25% (leeward faces) to 120% (windward faces) of the accumulation in adjacent nonmegadune areas. Leeward faces are characterized by glazed, sastrugi-free surfaces and extensive depth hoar formation. Windward faces are covered by large rough sastrugi up to 1.5 m in height. Copyright 2002 by the American Geophysical Union.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)-
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Forestry
  • Ecology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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