Performance of MAR (v3.11) in simulating the drifting-snow climate and surface mass balance of Adélie Land, East Antarctica

Amory, Charles; Kittel, Christoph; Le Toumelin, Louis; Agosta, Cécile; Delhasse, Alison; Favier, Vincent; Fettweis, Xavier

Drifting snow, or the wind-driven transport of snow particles originating from clouds and the surface below and above 2 m above ground and their concurrent sublimation, is a poorly documented process on the Antarctic ice sheet, which is inherently lacking in most climate models. Since drifting snow mostly results from erosion of surface particles, a comprehensive evaluation of this process in climate models requires a concurrent assessment of simulated drifting-snow transport and the surface mass balance (SMB). In this paper a new version of the drifting-snow scheme currently embedded in the regional climate model MAR (v3.11) is extensively described. Several important modifications relative to previous version have been implemented and include notably a parameterization for drifting-snow compaction of the uppermost snowpack layer, differentiated snow density at deposition between precipitation and drifting snow, and a rewrite of the threshold friction velocity above which snow erosion initiates. Model results at high resolution (10 km) over Adélie Land, East Antarctica, for the period 2004–2018 are presented and evaluated against available near-surface meteorological observations at half-hourly resolution and annual SMB estimates. The evaluation demonstrates that MAR resolves the local drifting-snow frequency and transport up to the scale of the drifting-snow event and captures the resulting observed climate and SMB variability, suggesting that this model version can be used for continent-wide applications.

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Amory, Charles / Kittel, Christoph / Le Toumelin, Louis / et al: Performance of MAR (v3.11) in simulating the drifting-snow climate and surface mass balance of Adélie Land, East Antarctica. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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