Climate Dynamics

, Volume 24, Issue 7, pp 759–770

Interannual variability of the surface mass balance of West Antarctica from ITASE cores and ERA40 reanalyses, 1958–2000

Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00382-005-0019-2

Cite this article as:
Genthon, C., Kaspari, S. & Mayewski, P.A. Climate Dynamics (2005) 24: 759. doi:10.1007/s00382-005-0019-2

Abstract

Time series of west-Antarctic (WA) annual surface mass balance (SMB) from ITASE firn/ice cores are compared with the ECMWF 1958–2001 ERA40 reanalysis-based model forecasts. The ITASE series partially confirm the spatial structure of the signature of El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in WA precipitation as previously identified in ERA40 and other models. However, an improvement of ERA40’s ability to reproduce the west-Antarctic SMB since the 1970s is evidenced and is probably related to the onset and increasing use of satellite data in late 1972 and 1978. Restricting the analysis to the 1973–2000 (satellite) period, interannual correlations between ITASE cores and ERA40 SMB series are generally significant (95% confidence level) but weak. The fraction of common variability increases when the series are spatially averaged, suggesting that small-scale perturbation (SSP) of the large-scale SMB variability significantly contributes to year-to-year variability in single core series. A comparison of stake network and core data from the South Pole suggests that SSP can almost fully obscure the large-scale component of the SMB variability as recorded in a single core. Because of SSP, the 1973–2000 period is too brief to verify whether all aspects of the WA large-scale signatures of ENSO and of the Antarctic Oscillation suggested by ERA40 are confirmed in the core series. More annually resolved field data from cores and stakes, spatially extended using high-resolution ground penetrating radar, are necessary to fully assess the relationship between the Antarctic SMB and the large-scale climate as currently suggested by meteorological and climate models.

Abbreviations

AAO

Antarctic Oscillation

AOI

Antarctic Oscillation index

ECMWF

European Center for Medium-range Weather Forecasts

ES

East sector

ENSO

El Nino Southern Oscillation

Gal03

Genthon et al. (2003)

GC03

Genthon and Cosme (2003)

GPR

Ground penetrating radar

ITASE

International Trans-Antarctic Scientific Expedition

Kal04

Kaspari et al. (2004)

r

Pearson’s linear correlation

SMB

Surface mass balance

SP

South pole

SOI

Southern Oscillation index

SSP

Small-scale perturbation

WA

West Antarctica

w.e.

Water equivalent

WS

West sector

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l’EnvironnementCNRS/UJFSaint Martin d’Hères cedexFrance
  2. 2.Climate Change InstituteUniversity of MaineOronoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of MaineOronoUSA