Articles | Volume 12, issue 6
Research article
19 Jun 2018
Research article |  | 19 Jun 2018

Autonomous ice sheet surface mass balance measurements from cosmic rays

Ian M. Howat, Santiago de la Peña, Darin Desilets, and Gary Womack

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Cited articles

Alley, R., Meese, D., Shuman, C., Gow, A., Taylor, K., Grootes, P., White, J., Ram, M., Waddington, E., Mayewski, P., and Zielinski, G.: Abrupt Increase in Greenland Snow Accumulation at the End of the Younger Dryas Event, Nature, 362, 527–529,, 1993. 
Andreasen, M., Jensen, K. H., Desilets, D., Franz, T. E., Zreda, M., Bogena, H. R., and Looms, M. C.: Status and Perspectives on the Cosmic-Ray Neutron Method for Soil Moisture Estimation and Other Environmental Science Applications, Vadose Zone J., 16, 1–11,, 2017. 
Desilets, D., Zreda, M., and Prabu, T.: Extended scaling factors for in situ cosmogenic nuclides: New measurements at low latitude, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 246, 265–276,, 2006. 
Dibb, J. and Fahnestock, M.: Snow accumulation, surface height change, and firn densification at Summit, Greenland: Insights from 2 years of in situ observation, J. Geophys. Res.-Atmos., 109, D24113,, 2004. 
Hawdon, A., McJannet, D., and Wallace, J.: Calibration and correction procedures for cosmic-ray neutron soil moisture probes located across Australia, Water Resour. Res., 50, 5029–5043,, 2014. 
Short summary
In this paper we present the first application of cosmic ray neutron sensing for continuously measuring in situ accumulation on an ice sheet. We validate these results with manual snow coring and snow stake measurements, showing that the cosmic ray observations are of similar if not better accuracy. We also present our observations of variability in accumulation over 24 months at Summit Camp, Greenland. We conclude that cosmic ray sensing has a high potential for measuring surface mass balance.