Journal cover Journal topic
The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
14 Jun 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of this manuscript was accepted for the journal The Cryosphere (TC) and is expected to appear here in due course.
Blowing snow detection from ground-based ceilometers: application to East Antarctica
Alexandra Gossart1, Niels Souverijns1, Irina Valerievna Gorodetskaya2,1, Stef Lhermitte3,1, Jan Thérèse Maria Lenaerts4,1,5, Jan Herbert Schween6, Alexander Mangold7, Quentin Laffineur7, and Nicole Petra Marie van Lipzig1 1Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
2Centre for Environmental and Marine Sciences, Department of Physics, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal
3Department of Geosciences and Remote Sensing, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands
4Institute for Marine and Atmospheric research Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
5Departement of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder CO, USA
6Institute of Geophysics and Meteorology, Koeln University, Koeln, Germany
7Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium, Brussels, Belgium
Abstract. Blowing snow impacts Antarctic ice sheet surface mass balance by snow redistribution and sublimation. Yet, numerical models poorly represent blowing snow processes, while direct observations are limited in space and time. Satellite retrieval of blowing snow are hindered by clouds and only consider the strongest events. Here, we develop a blowing snow detection algorithm for ground-based remote sensing ceilometers in polar regions. Results show that 79 % of the detected events are in agreement with visual observations. The algorithm is capable to detect both blowing snow lifted from the ground and occurring during precipitation, which is an added value since most of the blowing snow occurs during synoptic events, often combined with precipitation. Our analysis of atmospheric meteorological variables during blowing snow shows that blowing snow occurrence strongly depends on fresh snow availability in addition to wind speed, while the threshold for snow particles to be lifted is commonly parametrized as a function of wind speed only. These results suggest that the effect of katabatics and wind speed might have been overestimated, and that fresh snow availability should be considered in determining the blowing snow onset.

Citation: Gossart, A., Souverijns, N., Gorodetskaya, I. V., Lhermitte, S., Lenaerts, J. T. M., Schween, J. H., Mangold, A., Laffineur, Q., and van Lipzig, N. P. M.: Blowing snow detection from ground-based ceilometers: application to East Antarctica, The Cryosphere Discuss.,, in review, 2017.
Alexandra Gossart et al.
Alexandra Gossart et al.


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Short summary
Blowing snow plays an important role on local surface mass balance of Antarctica. We present here the blowing snow detection algorithm, to retreive blowing snow occurence from the attenuated backscatter signal of ceilometers set up at two station. There is a good correspondance in detection of heavy blowing snow by the algorithm, and the visual observations performed at Neumayer station. Moreover, most of the blowing snow occurs duringevents bringing precipitation from the coast inland.
Blowing snow plays an important role on local surface mass balance of Antarctica. We present...