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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-279
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-279
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 28 Jan 2019

Research article | 28 Jan 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Recent changes in pan-Antarctic surface snowmelt detected by AMSR-E and AMSR2

Lei Zheng1, Chunxia Zhou1, Tingjun Zhang2, Qi Liang1, and Kang Wang3 Lei Zheng et al.
  • 1Chinese Antarctic Center of Surveying and Mapping, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430079, China
  • 2Key Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental Systems (Ministry of Education), College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
  • 3Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, 80309, USA

Abstract. Surface snowmelt in the pan-Antarctic, including the Antarctic sea ice and ice sheet, is crucial to the mass and energy balance in polar regions and can serve as an indicator of climate change. We investigated the spatial and temporal variations of the surface snowmelt over the entire pan-Antarctic as a whole from 2002 to 2017 by using the passive microwave remote sensing data. The stable orbit and appropriate acquisition time of the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for the Earth Observing System (AMSR-E) and the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2) enable us to take full advantage of the daily brightness temperature (Tb) variations to detect the surface snowmelt events. In this study, diurnal amplitude variations of AMSR-E/2 vertically polarized 36.5 GHz Tb (DAV36V) were utilized to map the pan-Antarctic snowmelt because it is unaffected by the snow metamorphism. We validated the DAV36V method against the ground-based measurements and further improved the method over the marginal sea ice zone by excluding the effect of open water. Snowmelt detected by AMSR-E/2 data agreed well with that derived by ERA-Interim reanalysis, and much more extensive than that detected by the Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I) data. On average, pan-Antarctic snowmelt began on 19 September, and experienced 32 melt events. Annual mean melt extent on the Antarctic ice sheet (AIS) was only 9 % of that on the Antarctic sea ice. Overall, the pan-Antarctic surface snowmelt showed a trend (at 95 % confidence level) toward later melt onset (0.70 days yr−1) during the 2002–2017 period. Surface snowmelt was well correlated with atmospheric indices in some regions. Notably, the decreasing surface snowmelt on the AIS was very likely linked with the enhancing summer Southern Annular Mode.

Lei Zheng et al.
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Short summary
Snowmelt plays a key role in mass and energy balance in polar regions. In this study, we report on the spatial and temporal variations of the surface snowmelt over the Antarctic sea ice and ice sheet (pan-Antarctic) based on AMSR-E and AMSR2. Overall, the pan-Antarctic surface snowmelt showed a trend toward later melt onset during the 2002–2017 period. The decreasing surface snowmelt on the Antarctic ice sheet was very likely linked with the enhancing summer Southern Annular Mode.
Snowmelt plays a key role in mass and energy balance in polar regions. In this study, we report...
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