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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 05 Mar 2019

Research article | 05 Mar 2019

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

Very old firn air linked to strong density layering at Styx Glacier, coastal Victoria Land, East Antarctica

Youngjoon Jang1, Sang Bum Hong2, Christo Buizert3, Hun-Gyu Lee1, Sang-young Han1, Ji-Woong Yang1, Yoshinori Iizuka4, Akira Hori5, Yeongcheol Han2, Seong Joon Jun2, Pieter Tans6, Taejin Choi2, Seong-Joong Kim2, Soon Do Hur2, and Jinho Ahn1 Youngjoon Jang et al.
  • 1School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
  • 2Korea Polar Research Institute, Incheon, Republic of Korea
  • 3College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA
  • 4Institute of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan
  • 5Kitami Institute of Technology, Kitami, Japan
  • 6National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, CO, USA

Abstract. Firn air provides plenty of old air from the near past, and can therefore be useful for understanding human impact on the recent history of the atmospheric composition. Most of the existing firn air records cover only the last several decades (typically 40 to 55 years) and are insufficient to understand the early part of anthropogenic impacts on atmosphere. In contrast, a few firn air records from inland sites, where temperatures and snow accumulation rates are very low, go back in time about a century. In this study, we report an unusually old firn air age of 89 years from Styx Glacier, near the Ross Sea coast in Antarctica. This is the first report of such an old firn air age (> 55 years) from a warm coastal site. The lock-in zone thickness of 12.4 m is larger than at other sites where snow accumulation rates and air temperature are similar. High-resolution X-ray density measurements demonstrate a high variability of the vertical snow density at Styx Glacier. The CH4 mole fraction and total air content of the closed pores also indicate large variations in cm-scale depth intervals, indicative of layering. We hypothesize that the large density variations in the firn increase the thickness of lock-in zone and consequently increase firn air ages because the age of firn air rapidly increase with depth in the lock-in zone. Our study demonstrates that sites where weather conditions are favorable for the formation of large density variations at the lock-in zone preserve very old air within their open porosity, making them ideal places for firn air sampling.

Youngjoon Jang et al.
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Youngjoon Jang et al.
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