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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 9, issue 3
The Cryosphere, 9, 925-944, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-9-925-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
The Cryosphere, 9, 925-944, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-9-925-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 07 May 2015

Research article | 07 May 2015

Climatic signals from 76 shallow firn cores in Dronning Maud Land, East Antarctica

S. Altnau2,1, E. Schlosser3,1, E. Isaksson4, and D. Divine4 S. Altnau et al.
  • 1Institute of Meteorology and Geophysics, Centre for Climate and Cryosphere, University of Innsbruck, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
  • 2Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD), 63067 Offenbach, Germany
  • 3Austrian Polar Research Institute, Vienna, Austria
  • 4Norwegian Polar Institute, Fram Centre, 9296 Tromsø, Norway

Abstract. The spatial and temporal distribution of surface mass balance (SMB) and δ18O were investigated in the first comprehensive study of a set of 76 firn cores retrieved by various expeditions during the past 3 decades in Dronning Maud Land, East Antarctica. The large number of cores was used to calculate stacked records of SMB and δ18O, which considerably increased the signal-to-noise ratio compared to earlier studies and facilitated the detection of climatic signals. Considerable differences between cores from the interior plateau and the coastal cores were found. The δ18O of both the plateau and the ice shelf cores exhibit a slight positive trend over the second half of the 20th century. In the corresponding period, the SMB has a negative trend in the ice shelf cores, but increases on the plateau. Comparison with meteorological data from Neumayer Station revealed that for the ice shelf regions, atmospheric dynamic effects are more important than thermodynamics while on the plateau; the temporal variations of SMB and δ18O occur mostly in parallel, and thus can be explained by thermodynamic effects. The Southern Annular Mode (SAM) has exhibited a positive trend since the mid-1960s, which is assumed to lead to a cooling of East Antarctica. This is not confirmed by the firn core data in our data set. Changes in the atmospheric circulation that result in a changed seasonal distribution of precipitation/accumulation could partly explain the observed features in the ice shelf cores.

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The first comprehensive study of a set of 76 firn cores in Dronning Maud Land was carried out. The δ18O of both the plateau and the ice shelf cores exhibit a slight positive trend over the second half of the 20th century. The SMB has a negative trend in the ice shelf cores, but increases on the plateau. Comparison with meteorological data revealed that for the ice shelf regions, atmospheric dynamic effects are more important, while on the plateau, thermodynamic effects predominate.
The first comprehensive study of a set of 76 firn cores in Dronning Maud Land was carried out....
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