Snow precipitation at four ice core sites in East Antarctica: provenance, seasonality and blocking factors
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Snow precipitation is the primary mass input to the Antarctic ice sheet and is one of the most direct climatic indicators, with important implications for paleoclimatic reconstruction from ice cores. Provenance of precipitation and the dynamic conditions that force these precipitation events at four deep ice core sites (Dome C, Law Dome, Talos Dome, and Taylor Dome) in East Antarctica were analysed with air mass back trajectories calculated using the Lagrangian model and the mean composite data for precipitation, geopotential height and wind speed field data from the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecast from 1980 to 2001. On an annual basis, back trajectories showed that the Atlantic-Indian and Ross-Pacific Oceans were the main provenances of precipitation in Wilkes Land (80%) and Victoria Land (40%), respectively, whereas the greatest influence of the ice sheet was on the interior near the Vostok site (80%) and in the Southwest Ross Sea (50%), an effect that decreased towards the coast and along the Antarctic slope. Victoria Land received snowfall atypically with respect to other Antarctica areas in terms of pathway (eastern instead of western), seasonality (summer instead of winter) and velocity (old air age). Geopotential height patterns at 500 hPa at low (>10 days) and high (2–6 days) frequencies during snowfall cycles at two core sites showed large positive anomalies at low frequencies developing in the Tasman Sea-Eastern Indian Ocean at higher latitudes (60–70°S) than normal. This could be considered part of an atmospheric blocking event, with transient eddies acting to decelerate westerlies in a split region area and accelerate the flow on the flanks of the low-frequency positive anomalies.