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Short summary
We explain why snow pits across different sites in East Antarctica show visually similar isotopic variations. We argue that the similarity and the apparent cycles of around 20  cm in the δD and δ18O variations are the result of a seasonal cycle in isotopes, noise, for example from precipitation intermittency, and diffusion. The near constancy of the diffusion length across many ice-coring sites explains why the structure and cycle length is largely independent of the accumulation conditions.
Articles | Volume 12, issue 1
The Cryosphere, 12, 169–187, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-12-169-2018
The Cryosphere, 12, 169–187, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-12-169-2018

Research article 17 Jan 2018

Research article | 17 Jan 2018

On the similarity and apparent cycles of isotopic variations in East Antarctic snow pits

Thomas Laepple et al.

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Cited articles

Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung: Neumayer III and Kohnen Station in Antarctica operated by the Alfred Wegener Institute, Journal of Large-Scale Research Facilities, 2, A85, https://doi.org/10.17815/jlsrf-2-152, 2016.
Baroni, M., Bard, E., Petit, J.-R., Magand, O., and Bourlès, D.: Volcanic and solar activity, and atmospheric circulation influences on cosmogenic 10Be fallout at Vostok and Concordia (Antarctica) over the last 60 years, Geochim. Cosmochim. Ac., 75, 7132–7145, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2011.09.002, 2011.
Casado, M., Landais, A., Picard, G., Münch, T., Laepple, T., Stenni, B., Dreossi, G., Ekaykin, A., Arnaud, L., Genthon, C., Touzeau, A., Masson-Delmotte, V., and Jouzel, J.: Archival processes of the water stable isotope signal in East Antarctic ice cores, The Cryosphere Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2017-243, in review, 2017.
Casey, K. A., Fudge, T. J., Neumann, T. A., Steig, E. J., Cavitte, M. G. P., and Blankenship, D. D.: The 1500 m South Pole ice core: recovering a 40 ka environmental record, Ann. Glaciol., 55, 137–146, https://doi.org/10.3189/2014AoG68A016, 2014.
Cuffey, K. M. and Steig, E. J.: Isotopic diffusion in polar firn: implications for interpretation of seasonal climate parameters in ice-core records, with emphasis on central Greenland, J. Glaciol., 44, 273–284, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022143000002616, 1998.
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Short summary
We explain why snow pits across different sites in East Antarctica show visually similar isotopic variations. We argue that the similarity and the apparent cycles of around 20  cm in the δD and δ18O variations are the result of a seasonal cycle in isotopes, noise, for example from precipitation intermittency, and diffusion. The near constancy of the diffusion length across many ice-coring sites explains why the structure and cycle length is largely independent of the accumulation conditions.
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