Antarctica: Catching Snow in the World’s Southernmost Desert

Antarctica: Catching Snow in the World’s Southernmost Desert

Snow accumulation is the primary precipitation method that sustains the Antarctic ice sheets. Yet, snowfall remains one of the most difficult meteorological variables to accurately measure in Antarctica. In addition to the harsh, windy conditions that are common during the Antarctic winter, most of Antarctica is considered a desert with estimated yearly snowfall accumulation amounts as low as just two inches in some areas. Because of the challenges associated with measuring snow in these environments, the input (primarily snowfall accumulation) to the mass balance of snow and ice across Antarctica is not well understood. Additionally, the current estimates of precipitation amounts for Antarctica vary significantly, which further complicates our understanding of the mass balance of the ice sheets. A new field program funded by the National Science Foundation is focused on testing recent advances in snowfall measurement technology to determine if accurate snowfall measurements around the McMurdo area are now possible in the Antarctic environment. An overview of the field program will be provided with an emphasis on the recent advances in snowfall measurement. Preliminary data will be shown and the challenges of working in Antarctica and day-to-day life around McMurdo Station will be discussed. (This talk will be a repeat of the recent Explorer Series talk on this topic.)

Scott Landolt, NCAR
Tuesday, March 20, 2018


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Announcement Timing: 
March 1, 2018 to March 20, 2018
Calendar Timing: 
Tuesday, March 20, 2018 - 10:30am to 11:30am