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Spatial distribution of surface mass balance on Amundsenisen plateau, Antarctica, derived from ice-penetrating radar studies

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Rotschky, G. , Eisen, O. , Wilhelms, F. , Nixdorf, U. and Oerter, H. (2004): Spatial distribution of surface mass balance on Amundsenisen plateau, Antarctica, derived from ice-penetrating radar studies , Annals of Glaciology, 39 , pp. 265-270 .
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The distribution of surface mass balance on Amundsenisen, Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, is investigated along a continous profile line. Ice-penetrating radar is used to map variations in ice-layer thickness within the upper 100 m of the ice sheet. The route passes several firn- and ice- core drilling sites over a distance of 320 km. Dielectric-profiling data of ice cores is used to calculate the depths of selected reflection horizons and the cumulative mass of the ice column. The local surface mass balance is determined as a temporal average, covering a time span of almost two centuries. The findings indicate a complex accumulation pattern superimposed on a general low surface mass balance, which is related to small-scale surface undulations. The results of the radar soundings are in general in good agreement with surface mass balance data derived from firn-core studies. Discrepancies between these two datasets can be explained by spatial mismatch or by minor quality of either ice core profiles or radar data. For regional comparison of radar-based accumulation data we use an accumulation distribution interpolated from point measurements. The surface mass balance varies up to 50 % over short distances, with correlation lengths of <10 km. We conclude that the current utilization schemes of point sampling are only capable of reproducing local values and regional trends but provide no information on the small-scale variability of surface mass balance.

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