30 May 2023
 | 30 May 2023
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Extremes of surface snow grains change in East Antarctica and their relationship with meteorological conditions

Claudio Stefanini, Giovanni Macelloni, Marion Leduc-Leballeur, Vincent Favier, Benjamin Pohl, and Ghislain Picard

Abstract. This study explores the grain size seasonal variations on the East Antarctic Plateau, where dry metamorphism occurs, by using microwave radiometer observations from 2000 to 2022. Local meteorological conditions and large scale atmospheric phenomena have been considered in order to explain some peculiar changes of the snow grains. We find that the highest ice divide is the region with the largest grain size in the summer, mainly because the wind speed is low. Moreover, some extreme grain size values with respect to the average (over +3σ) were identified. In these cases, the ERA5 reanalysis revealed a high pressure blocking/ridge situation in the proximity of the onsets of the summer increase of the grain size, conveying the relatively warm and moist air coming from the mid latitudes, often associated with atmospheric rivers. If weak wind and low temperature conditions occur during the following weeks, dry snow metamorphism is facilitated, leading to grain growth. This determines anomalous high maximums of the snow grain size at the end of summer. These phenomena confirm the importance of moisture intrusion events in the East Antarctica and their impact on the physical properties of the ice sheet surface, with a co-occurrence of atmospheric rivers and seasonal changes of the grain size significant over 95 %.

Claudio Stefanini 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-2023-61', Anonymous Referee #1, 18 Jun 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Claudio Stefanini, 27 Sep 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on tc-2023-61', Anonymous Referee #2, 30 Aug 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Claudio Stefanini, 27 Sep 2023

Claudio Stefanini et al.

Claudio Stefanini et al.


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Short summary
Local and large scale meteorological conditions have been considered in order to explain some peculiar changes of the snow grains on the East Antarctic Plateau from 2000 to 2022, by using remote sensing observations and ERA5 reanalysis. We identified some extreme grain size events on the highest ice divide, results of a combination of low wind speed and low temperature conditions. Moreover, the beginning of the seasonal grain growth has been linked to the occurrence of atmospheric rivers.