Articles | Volume 8, issue 2
The Cryosphere, 8, 801–814, 2014

Special issue: Ice2sea – estimating the future contribution of continental...

The Cryosphere, 8, 801–814, 2014

Research article 30 Apr 2014

Research article | 30 Apr 2014

Drifting snow measurements on the Greenland Ice Sheet and their application for model evaluation

J. T. M. Lenaerts1, C. J. P. P. Smeets1, K. Nishimura2, M. Eijkelboom1, W. Boot1, M. R. van den Broeke1, and W. J. van de Berg1 J. T. M. Lenaerts et al.
  • 1Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 2Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan

Abstract. This paper presents autonomous drifting snow observations performed on the Greenland Ice Sheet in the fall of 2012. High-frequency snow particle counter (SPC) observations at ~ 1 m above the surface provided drifting snow number fluxes and size distributions; these were combined with meteorological observations at six levels. We identify two types of drifting snow events: katabatic events are relatively cold and dry, with prevalent winds from the southeast, whereas synoptic events are short lived, warm and wet. Precipitating snow during synoptic events disturbs the drifting snow measurements. Output of the regional atmospheric climate model RACMO2, which includes the drifting snow routine PIEKTUK-B, agrees well with the observed near-surface climate at the site, as well as with the frequency and timing of drifting snow events. Direct comparisons with the SPC observations at 1 m reveal that the model overestimates the horizontal snow transport at this level, which can be related to an overestimation of saltation and the typical size of drifting snow particles.