20 Jul 2022
20 Jul 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Characteristics of the contemporary Antarctic firn layer simulated with IMAU-FDM v1.2A (1979–2020)

Sanne B. M. Veldhuijsen, Willem Jan van de Berg, Max Brils, Peter Kuipers Munneke, and Michiel R. van den Broeke Sanne B. M. Veldhuijsen et al.
  • Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Abstract. Firn simulations are essential for understanding Antarctic ice sheet mass change as they enable us to convert satellite altimetry observed volume changes to mass changes, and to quantify the meltwater buffering capacity of firn. Here, we present and evaluate a simulation of the contemporary Antarctic firn layer using the updated semi-empirical firn model IMAU-FDM for the period 1979–2020. In IMAU-FDM, we have improved the fresh snow density and firn compaction parameterizations, and used improved 5 atmospheric forcing. In addition, the model has been tuned and evaluated against 148 in situ observations across the ice sheet. The updated model captures the observed strong spatial variation in firn thickness and density. The temporal variation can be split into a rather stable seasonal cycle driven by snowfall, compaction and melt seasonal cycles, and more irregular decadal variations driven by snowfall anomalies. Comparison of simulated surface elevation change with altimetry shows that the decadal trends agree reasonably well, and that the performance of the updated model has improved, notably in Dronning Maud Land and Wilkins Land.

Sanne B. M. Veldhuijsen et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on tc-2022-118', Vincent Verjans, 09 Aug 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on tc-2022-118', Baptiste Vandecrux, 11 Aug 2022
  • RC3: 'Comment on tc-2022-118', C. Max Stevens, 18 Aug 2022

Sanne B. M. Veldhuijsen et al.

Sanne B. M. Veldhuijsen et al.


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Short summary
Firn is the transition of snow to glacier ice and covers 99% of the Antarctic ice sheet. Knowledge about the firn layer and its variability is important for two reasons. Firstly, it impacts satellite-based estimates of ice sheet mass change. Secondly, firn contains pores in which nearly all of the surface melt is retained. Here, we improve a semi-empirical firn model and simulate the firn characteristics for the period 1979-2020. We evaluate the performance with field and satellite measures.