January 1, 2019.
Antarctica is a relatively understudied area, where we primarily use the Antarctic Mesoscale Precipitation System (AMPS) weather model to estimate and predict snowfall amounts. Understanding snow accumulation in Antarctica may help us calculate the snowmass budget of its ice sheets and adjust estimates of sea level rise due to melting. In this study, automated weather instruments were installed in November 2017 to measure liquid water equivalent (LWE) amounts of snowfall across four field sites on the Ross Ice Shelf during an 8-month period and used to determine variation of snow accumulation. The raw Pluvio2 data for all sites were plotted and compared, while snow events for each site were identified and sorted based on LWE and date. Our study found that the two sites more inland of the Ross Ice Shelf accumulated less snowfall, likely due to terrain effects of local, snowfall-enhancing upslope effects, suggesting that ice sheet growth may be greater near Antarctica’s coastlines. Snow events were often followed by sublimation events, appearing greatest in summer and minimal in winter. This research provides novel insights on accumulation trends and serves as a model for the potential of future automated weather systems in Antarctica.
National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
The 2018 STEM Teacher and Researcher Program and this project have been made possible through support from Chevron (www.chevron.com), the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (www.marinesanctuary.org), the National Science Foundation through the Robert Noyce Program under Grant #1836335 and 1340110, the California State University Office of the Chancellor, and California Polytechnic State University in partnership with National Center for Atmospheric Research. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funders.