Continuous measurements of blowing snow are scarce, both in time and space. Satellites now provide the opportunity to derive blowing snow occurrences, transport and sublimation rates over Antarctica. These products are extremely valuable and offer a continental-wide assessment of blowing snow, which is an important but unknown component of the surface mass balance of the Antarctic ice sheet. However, little ground truth is available to validate these retrievals. The recent application of ceilometers for detection of blowing snow frequencies provides an opportunity to validate the satellite retrievals of blowing snow. A routine to detect blowing snow occurrence from ground-based remote sensing ceilometers has been developed at two coastal locations in East Antarctica for the 2011–2016 time period. Thanks to their ground-based location, ceilometers are able to detect blowing snow events in the presence of clouds and precipitation, which can be missed by the satellite, since optically thick clouds impede the penetration of the signal. In coastal areas, more than 90% of blowing snow occurs under cloudy conditions and represent 30 to 56% of all cloudy conditions at Princess Elisabeth and Neumayer III (Neumayer hereafter) stations, respectively. For cloud-free conditions, 8% of the measurements at Princess Elisabeth (and none at Neumayer) are identified as blowing snow by the satellite but not by the ceilometer, likely due to differences in sensors, limitation of the surface identification by the satellite, or the spatial inhomogeneity of the blowing snow event. While the satellite blowing snow retrieval is a useful product, further investigation is needed to reduce the uncertainties on blowing snow frequencies associated with clouds.
- blowing snow
- remote sensing