Journal of Glaciology (Dec 2022)

From ice core to ground-penetrating radar: representativeness of SMB at three ice rises along the Princess Ragnhild Coast, East Antarctica

  • Marie G.P. Cavitte,
  • Hugues Goosse,
  • Sarah Wauthy,
  • Thore Kausch,
  • Jean-Louis Tison,
  • Brice Van Liefferinge,
  • Frank Pattyn,
  • Jan T.M. Lenaerts,
  • Philippe Claeys

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 68
pp. 1221 – 1233


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The future contributions of the Antarctic Ice Sheet to sea level rise will depend on the evolution of its surface mass balance (SMB), which could amplify/dampen mass losses increasingly observed at the ice sheet's edge. In situ constraints of SMB over annual-to-decadal timescales consist mostly of firn/ice cores that have a surface footprint $\sim$cm$^{2}$. SMB constraints also come from climate models, which have a higher temporal resolution but a larger surface footprint of several km$^{2}$. We use ice-penetrating radar data to obtain an intermediate spatial and temporal resolution SMB record over three ice rises along the Princess Ragnhild Coast. The co-located ice cores allow us to obtain absolute radar-derived SMB rates at a multi-annual-to-decadal temporal resolution. By comparing the ice core SMB measurements and the radar-derived SMB records, we determine that pointwise measurements of SMB are representative of a small surface area, $\sim 200-500$ m radius extending from the ice core drill site for the ice rises studied here, and that the pointwise measurements are systematically 7–15 cm w.e. a$^{-1}$ lower than the mean SMB value calculated for the whole ice rises. However, ice core records are representative of an entire ice rise's temporal variability at the temporal resolution examined.