Articles | Volume 8, issue 5
The Cryosphere, 8, 1905–1919, 2014
The Cryosphere, 8, 1905–1919, 2014

Research article 22 Oct 2014

Research article | 22 Oct 2014

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

H. Barral1,3, C. Genthon1,2, A. Trouvilliez4, C. Brun3, and C. Amory1,5 H. Barral et al.
  • 1CNRS, LGGE – UMR5183, 38000 Grenoble, France
  • 2Univ. Grenoble Alpes, LGGE – UMR5183, 38000 Grenoble, France
  • 3Univ. Grenoble Alpes, LEGI – UMR5519, 38000 Grenoble, France
  • 4Cerema, DTecEMF, LGCE, 29200 Brest, France
  • 5Univ. Grenoble Alpes Irstea, 38000 Grenoble, France

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.