EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Detailed simulations of snow properties and accumulation across the Antarctic Ice Sheet

Jan Lenaerts1, Eric Keenan1, Nander Wever1, Marissa Dattler2,3, Carleen Reijmer4, and Brooke Medley3
Jan Lenaerts et al.
  • 1Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, United States of America (
  • 2Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, United States of America
  • 3Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States of America
  • 4Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Surface mass balance (SMB) represents a large uncertainty in characterizing Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS) mass balance. Atmospheric reanalysis products, which are commonly used for AIS SMB studies, do not include small-scale snow redistribution processes even though these can be of the same order of magnitude as snow accumulation in many parts of the AIS. Therefore, a proper representation of these processes is critical to interpret local SMB and firn observations, such as from ICESat-2 repeat altimetry. In this study, we use a detailed, multi-layer snow model (SNOWPACK) forced by a global atmospheric reanalysis (MERRA-2). Firstly, we show that a new accumulation scheme, designed to better represent wind-driven snow compaction in SNOWPACK, substantially reduces simulated biases in near-surface snow density at 131 locations across the AIS. Next, we employ a distributed version of SNOWPACK to two regions on the AIS, and compare the simulation output to airborne radar and in-situ observations of SMB. Our results demonstrate that SNOWPACK can capture the timing of blowing snow events, snow erosion events, as well as observed kilometer-scale spatial SMB variability. This study illustrates the importance of using high-resolution SMB models when converting surface height (volume) observations to mass changes.

How to cite: Lenaerts, J., Keenan, E., Wever, N., Dattler, M., Reijmer, C., and Medley, B.: Detailed simulations of snow properties and accumulation across the Antarctic Ice Sheet , EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-10368,, 2020

This abstract will not be presented.