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Volume 6, issue 2
The Cryosphere, 6, 505–515, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
The Cryosphere, 6, 505–515, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 18 Apr 2012

Research article | 18 Apr 2012

Relation between surface topography and sea-salt snow chemistry from Princess Elizabeth Land, East Antarctica

K. Mahalinganathan, M. Thamban, C. M. Laluraj, and B. L. Redkar K. Mahalinganathan et al.
  • National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research, Headland Sada, Vasco da Gama, Goa 403804, India

Abstract. Previous studies on Antarctic snow have established an unambiguous correlation between variability of sea-salt records and site specific features like elevation and proximity to the sea. On the other hand, variations of Cl/Na+ ratios in snow have been attributed to the reaction mechanisms involving atmospheric acids. In the present study, the annual records of Na+, Cl and SO42− were investigated using snow cores along a 180 km coast to inland transect in Princess Elizabeth Land, East Antarctica. Exceptionally high Na+ concentrations and large variations in Cl/Na+ ratios were observed up to 50 km (∼1100 m elevation) of the transect. The steepest slope in the entire transect (49.3 m km−1) was between 20 and 30 km and the sea-salt records in snow from this area revealed extensive modifications, with Cl/Na+ ratios as low as 0.2. Statistical analysis showed a strong association between the slope and variations in Cl/Na+ ratios along the transect (r = −0.676, 99% confidence level). While distance from the coast accounted for some variability, the altitude by itself has no significant control over the sea-salt ion variability. However, the steep slopes influence the deposition of sea-salt aerosols in snow. The wind redistribution of snow due to the steep slopes on the coastal escarpment increases the concentration of Na+, resulting in a low Cl/Na+ ratios. We propose that the slope variations in the coastal regions of Antarctica could significantly influence the sea-salt chemistry of snow.

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