Articles | Volume 8, issue 5
Research article
22 Oct 2014
Research article |  | 22 Oct 2014

Blowing snow in coastal Adélie Land, Antarctica: three atmospheric-moisture issues

H. Barral, C. Genthon, A. Trouvilliez, C. Brun, and C. Amory

Abstract. A total of 3 years of blowing-snow observations and associated meteorology along a 7 m mast at site D17 in coastal Adélie Land are presented. The observations are used to address three atmospheric-moisture issues related to the occurrence of blowing snow, a feature which largely affects many regions of Antarctica: (1) blowing-snow sublimation raises the moisture content of the surface atmosphere close to saturation, and atmospheric models and meteorological analyses that do not carry blowing-snow parameterizations are affected by a systematic dry bias; (2) while snowpack modelling with a parameterization of surface-snow erosion by wind can reproduce the variability of snow accumulation and ablation, ignoring the high levels of atmospheric-moisture content associated with blowing snow results in overestimating surface sublimation, affecting the energy budget of the snowpack; (3) the well-known profile method of calculating turbulent moisture fluxes is not applicable when blowing snow occurs, because moisture gradients are weak due to blowing-snow sublimation, and the impact of measurement uncertainties are strongly amplified in the case of strong winds.