Satellite Observations of Blowing Snow in and Around Antarctica: Implications for Ice Sheet Mass Balance and Atmospheric Chemistry

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 12:05 PM
Stephen P Palm, Science Systems and Applications, Inc., NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Lanham, MD, United States, Yuekui Yang, NASA, Greenbelt, MD, United States and Alexander Marshak, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States
Blowing snow in the polar regions is known to be important for a variety of reasons including ice sheet mass balance, atmospheric water vapor transport, interpretation of paleoclimate records and atmospheric chemistry. Over Antarctica, persistent katabatic winds produce extreme blowing snow events often covering 100,000 square kilometers or more and reaching heights of 300-400 meters. New techniques of blowing snow detection using active and passive satellite data are providing a new understanding of the frequency, magnitude and spatial coverage of blowing snow over and around the Antarctic continent. Current research is utilizing these methods to obtain a nearly 10 year climatology of blowing snow events over Antarctica and estimate the amount of mass being blown off the continent and sublimated into the atmosphere on an annual basis. In addition, recent research indicates that blowing snow over sea ice may be important in the process of transporting seal salt aerosol into the atmosphere where it is implicated in the production of bromine compounds that strongly influence many aspects of tropospheric chemistry.