Articles | Volume 5, issue 1
The Cryosphere, 5, 187–201, 2011
The Cryosphere, 5, 187–201, 2011

Research article 10 Mar 2011

Research article | 10 Mar 2011

Spatial and temporal variability in summer snow pack in Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica

T. Vihma1, O.-P. Mattila2,*, R. Pirazzini1, and M. M. Johansson1 T. Vihma et al.
  • 1Finnish Meteorological Institute, P.O. Box 503, 00101 Helsinki, Finland
  • 2Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 64, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
  • *now at: Finnish Environmental Institute, P.O. Box 140, 00251 Helsinki, Finland

Abstract. To quantify the spatial and temporal variability in the snow pack, field measurements were carried out during four summers in Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica. Data from a 310-km-long transect revealed the largest horizontal gradients in snow density, temperature, and hardness in the escarpment region. On the local scale, day-to-day temporal variability dominated the standard deviation of snow temperature, while the diurnal cycle was of second significance, and horizontal variability on the scale of 0.4 to 10 m was least important. In the uppermost 0.2 m, the snow temperature was correlated with the air temperature over the previous 6–12 h, whereas at the depths of 0.3 to 0.5 m the most important time scale was 3 days. Cloud cover and radiative fluxes affected the snow temperature in the uppermost 0.30 m and the snow density in the uppermost 0.10 m. Both on the intra-pit and transect scales, the ratio of horizontal to temporal variability increased with depth. The horizontal standard deviation of snow density increased rapidly between the scales of 0.4 and 2 m, and more gradually from 10 to 100 m. Inter-annual variations in snow temperature and density were due to inter-annual differences in air temperature and the timing of the precipitation events.