Encyclopedia of Planetary Landforms

2015 Edition
| Editors: Henrik Hargitai, Ákos Kereszturi

Snow Megadune

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-3134-3_620


Long-wavelength transverse bedform in Antarctica.


Transverse, long-wavelength surface ripples characterized by m-scale heights and km-scale wavelengths. Areas between the dune forms on the ice sheet are called wind glaze regions, which have near-zero accumulation.


Antarctic snow megadunes represent 2–4 m amplitude waves of 2–5 km wavelength (Frezzotti et al. 2002).


Snow megadunes represent antidunal formation in a polar environment dominated by blowing snow under very consistent wind conditions. These features form as a result of standing wave patterns formed in an inversion air layer when the layer of flowing air is perturbed by a hill or other feature on the ice sheet. They form only in regions with highly persistent katabatic winds. The local accumulation is redistributed to the dune areas, with regions of essentially zero snowfall between them (Frezzotti et al. 2002, Scambos et al. 2012).

Studied Locations

Upper Byrd Glacier catchment in...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access


  1. Fahnestock MA, Scambos TA, Shuman CA, Arthern RJ, Winebrenner DP, Kwok R (2000) Snow megadune fields on the East Antarctic Plateau: extreme atmosphere-ice interaction. Geophys Res Lett 27(22):3719–3722CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Frezzotti M, Gandolfi S, Urbini S (2002) Snow megadunes in Antarctica: sedimentary structure and genesis. J Geophys Res (Atmos) 107 (D18), ACL 1–1, CiteID 4344. doi:10.1029/2001JD000673Google Scholar
  3. Scambos T, Haran T, Fahnestock M, Painter T, Bohlander J (2007) MODIS-based Mosaic of Antarctica (MOA) data sets: continent-wide surface morphology and snow grain size. Remote Sens Environ 111(2):242–257, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2006.12.020CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Scambos TA, et al. (2012) Extent of low-accumulation ‘wind glaze’ areas on the East Antarctic Plateau: implications for continental ice mass balance. J Glaciol, 58(210). doi:10.3189/2012JoG11J232Google Scholar
  5. Swithinbank C (1988) Antarctica. Satellite image atlas of glaciers of the world. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1386-B, WashingtonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Snow and Ice Data Center/CIRESUniversity of Colorado at BoulderBoulderUSA