Journal cover Journal topic
The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2017-45
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
03 Apr 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).
Blowing Snow Sublimation and Transport over Antarctica from 11 Years of CALIPSO Observations
Stephen P. Palm1, Vinay Kayetha1, Yuekui Yang2, and Rebecca Pauly1 1Science Systems Applications Inc., 10210 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, Maryland USA 20771
2NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland USA 20771
Abstract. Blowing snow processes commonly occur over the earth's ice sheets when near surface wind speed exceeds a threshold value. These processes play a key role in the sublimation and re-distribution of snow thereby influencing the surface mass balance. Prior field studies and modeling results have shown the importance of blowing snow sublimation and transport on the surface mass budget and hydrological cycle of high latitude regions. For the first time, we present continent-wide estimates of blowing snow sublimation and transport over Antarctica based on direct observation of blowing snow events. We use an improved version of the blowing snow detection algorithm developed for previous work that uses atmospheric backscatter measurements obtained from the CALIOP lidar aboard the CALIPSO satellite. The blowing snow events identified by CALIPSO and meteorological fields from MERRA-2 are used to compute the sublimation and transport rates. Our results show that maximum sublimation occurs along and slightly inland of the coastline. This is contrary to the observed maximum blowing snow frequency which occurs over the interior. The associated temperature and moisture re-analysis fields likely contribute to the spatial distribution of the maximum sublimation values. However, the spatial pattern of the sublimation rate over Antarctica is consistent with modeling studies and precipitation estimates. Overall, our results show that Antarctica average integrated blowing snow sublimation is about 393.4 ± 138 Gt yr−1 which is considerably larger than previous model-derived estimates. We find maximum blowing snow transport amount of 5 Megatons km−1 yr−1 over parts of East Antarctica and estimate that the average snow transport from continent to ocean is about 3.68 Gt yr−1. These continent-wide estimates are the first of their kind and can be used to help model and constrain the surface-mass budget over Antarctica.

Citation: Palm, S. P., Kayetha, V., Yang, Y., and Pauly, R.: Blowing Snow Sublimation and Transport over Antarctica from 11 Years of CALIPSO Observations, The Cryosphere Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2017-45, in review, 2017.
Stephen P. Palm et al.
Stephen P. Palm et al.

Data sets

CALIPSO Level 1 Calibrated Attenuated Backscatter
NASA Langley Atmospheric Data Center
https://eosweb.larc.nasa.gov/project/calipso/cal_lid_l1-valstage1-v3-30_table
Stephen P. Palm et al.

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Short summary
Blowing snow processes are an important component of ice sheet mass balance and also the atmospheric hydrological cycle. This paper presents the first satellite-derived estimates of continent-wide sublimation and transport of blowing snow over Antarctica. We find larger sublimation values than previously reported in the literature which were based on model parameterizations. We also compute an estimate of the amount of snow transported from continent to ocean and find this to be significant.
Blowing snow processes are an important component of ice sheet mass balance and also the...
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