EGU23-9243, updated on 12 Apr 2023
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Adapting a snowpack model to simulate cold-based glacial hydrological processes in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica

Tamara Pletzer1, Nicolas Cullen1, Jonathan Conway2, Trude Eidhammer3, and Marwan Katurji4
Tamara Pletzer et al.
  • 1School of Geography, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  • 2National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Lauder, New Zealand
  • 3National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, USA
  • 4School of Earth and Environment, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

Glacial melt is the primary source of freshwater for the fragile microbial ecosystem in the McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDV) of Antarctica. These glaciers are cold-based, with internal temperatures around -18°C, however, air temperatures hover around 0°C for several weeks in the summer and föhn wind events can rapidly raise ice surface temperatures to the melting point. Thus, episodical glacial melt is sensitive to small changes in the climate.  

The aim of this research is to adapt a detailed snowpack model embedded in a distributed hydrological model to simulate the surface energy balance and run-off of a glacier in the MDV. To do this, the snowpack model in the WRF-Hydro-Crocus modelling scheme, which has been used for avalanche forecasting and temperate glaciers, is adapted to the MDV. Several modifications are made to model calculations and parameters to allow the model to successfully simulate surface energy balance and runoff in this environment. For example, the parameters for the Crocus albedo scheme are adjusted to obtain band profiles for snow, firn and ice that replicate observed albedo and remain internally consistent between surface types. The modelling system is then validated against data from an automatic weather station, eddy covariance measurements and stream discharge. It is shown to be suitable for future efforts to model the full hydrological cycle of glacial meltwater in this region.

How to cite: Pletzer, T., Cullen, N., Conway, J., Eidhammer, T., and Katurji, M.: Adapting a snowpack model to simulate cold-based glacial hydrological processes in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-9243,, 2023.