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Characteristics of accumulation around the EPICA deep-drilling site in Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica

  • Olaf Eisen (a1), Wolfgang Rack (a1), Uwe Nixdorf (a1) and Frank Wilhelms (a1)

Abstract

Based on ground-penetrating radar profiles, we analyze area-wide spatial and temporal characteristics of accumulation rate in the vicinity of the EPICA (European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica) deep-drilling site in Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica (EDML). An area of 1600km2 is covered by 500km of radar profiles, organized in a star-like pattern with eight 20–25km legs and a 10km grid with 1–3km spacing, each pattern being centred on the EDML drilling location. Distributions of density, cumulative mass, age and the electromagnetic wave speed with depth are available from physical ice-core records. Nine internal reflection horizons are continuously tracked within the upper 110m of ice over the whole area, yielding a spatial picture of accumulation rate history over >1000 years. The mean accumulation rate over the last 153 years varies between 50 and 75 kgm–2 a–1 over 50 km perpendicular to the ice divide; the spatial average is ~61 kgm–2 a–1. This general pattern is overlain by small-scale variations of accumulation rate on the order of 10% of the mean. Maximum local gradients in accumulation rate are ~2–3 kgm–2 a–1 km–1, about five times the regional accumulation rate gradient. Comparison of topography and accumulation rate along a 20 km profile in the direction of the mean winds indicates that variations in accumulation rate over short distances are linked to surface undulations. Our results show that advected spatial variations of accumulation rate are on the same order and even exceed temporal changes over the investigated periods. Ice flow and upstream effects therefore might influence accumulation rates reconstructed from the EDML ice core.

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