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Annual Greenland Accumulation Rates (2009-2012) from Airborne Snow RadarContemporary climate warming over the Arctic is accelerating mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet through increasing surface melt, emphasizing the need to closely monitor its surface mass balance in order to improve sea-level rise predictions. Snow accumulation is the largest component of the ice sheet's surface mass balance, but in situ observations thereof are inherently sparse and models are difficult to evaluate at large scales. Here, we quantify recent Greenland accumulation rates using ultra-wideband (2-6.5 gigahertz) airborne snow radar data collected as part of NASA's Operation IceBridge between 2009 and 2012. We use a semi-automated method to trace the observed radiostratigraphy and then derive annual net accumulation rates for 2009-2012. The uncertainty in these radar-derived accumulation rates is on average 14 percent. A comparison of the radarderived accumulation rates and contemporaneous ice cores shows that snow radar captures both the annual and longterm mean accumulation rate accurately. A comparison with outputs from a regional climate model (MAR - Modele Atmospherique Regional for Greenland and vicinity) shows that this model matches radar-derived accumulation rates in the ice sheet interior but produces higher values over southeastern Greenland. Our results demonstrate that snow radar can efficiently and accurately map patterns of snow accumulation across an ice sheet and that it is valuable for evaluating the accuracy of surface mass balance models.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Koenig, Lora S.
(Colorado Univ. Boulder, CO, United States)
Ivanoff, Alvaro
(Adnet Systems, Inc. Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Alexander, Patrick M.
(Universities Space Research Association Columbia, MD, United States)
MacGregor, Joseph A.
(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Fettweis, Xavier
(Liege Univ. Belgium)
Panzer, Ben
(Kansas Univ. Lawrence, KS, United States)
Paden, John D.
(Kansas Univ. Lawrence, KS, United States)
Forster, Richard R.
(Utah Univ. Salt Lake City, UT, United States)
Das, Indrani
(Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Palisades, NY, United States)
McConnell, Joseph R.
(Desert Research Inst. Reno, NV, United States)
Tedesco, Marco
(Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Palisades, NY, United States)
Leuschen, Carl
(Kansas Univ. Lawrence, KS, United States)
Gogineni, Prasad
(Kansas Univ. Lawrence, KS, United States)
Date Acquired
August 30, 2016
Publication Date
August 11, 2016
Publication Information
Publication: The Cryosphere
Volume: 10
Issue: 4
Subject Category
Meteorology And Climatology
Earth Resources And Remote Sensing
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
surface melt
mass loss
ice sheet
surface mass balance
accumulation rates
climate models

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