The Cryosphere (Oct 2016)

Three-year monitoring of stable isotopes of precipitation at Concordia Station, East Antarctica

  • B. Stenni,
  • C. Scarchilli,
  • V. Masson-Delmotte,
  • E. Schlosser,
  • E. Schlosser,
  • V. Ciardini,
  • G. Dreossi,
  • P. Grigioni,
  • M. Bonazza,
  • A. Cagnati,
  • D. Karlicek,
  • C. Risi,
  • R. Udisti,
  • M. Valt

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 10
pp. 2415 – 2428


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Past temperature reconstructions from Antarctic ice cores require a good quantification and understanding of the relationship between snow isotopic composition and 2 m air or inversion (condensation) temperature. Here, we focus on the French–Italian Concordia Station, central East Antarctic plateau, where the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica (EPICA) Dome C ice cores were drilled. We provide a multi-year record of daily precipitation types identified from crystal morphologies, daily precipitation amounts and isotopic composition. Our sampling period (2008–2010) encompasses a warmer year (2009, +1.2 °C with respect to 2 m air temperature long-term average 1996–2010), with larger total precipitation and snowfall amounts (14 and 76 % above sampling period average, respectively), and a colder and drier year (2010, −1.8 °C, 4 % below long-term and sampling period averages, respectively) with larger diamond dust amounts (49 % above sampling period average). Relationships between local meteorological data and precipitation isotopic composition are investigated at daily, monthly and inter-annual scale, and for the different types of precipitation. Water stable isotopes are more closely related to 2 m air temperature than to inversion temperature at all timescales (e.g. R2 = 0.63 and 0.44, respectively for daily values). The slope of the temporal relationship between daily δ18O and 2 m air temperature is approximately 2 times smaller (0.49 ‰ °C−1) than the average Antarctic spatial (0.8 ‰ °C−1) relationship initially used for the interpretation of EPICA Dome C records. In accordance with results from precipitation monitoring at Vostok and Dome F, deuterium excess is anti-correlated with δ18O at daily and monthly scales, reaching maximum values in winter. Hoar frost precipitation samples have a specific fingerprint with more depleted δ18O (about 5 ‰ below average) and higher deuterium excess (about 8 ‰ above average) values than other precipitation types. These datasets provide a basis for comparison with shallow ice core records, to investigate post-deposition effects. A preliminary comparison between observations and precipitation from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) reanalysis and the simulated water stable isotopes from the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique Zoom atmospheric general circulation model (LMDZiso) shows that models do correctly capture the amount of precipitation as well as more than 50 % of the variance of the observed δ18O, driven by large-scale weather patterns. Despite a warm bias and an underestimation of the variance in water stable isotopes, LMDZiso correctly captures these relationships between δ18O, 2 m air temperature and deuterium excess. Our dataset is therefore available for further in-depth model evaluation at the synoptic scale.