The Effect of Foehn-Induced Surface Melt on Firn Evolution Over the Northeast Antarctic Peninsula

Rajashree Tri Datta, Marco Tedesco, Xavier Fettweis, Cecile Agosta, Stef Lhermitte, Jan T.M. Lenaerts, Nander Wever

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Surface meltwater ponding has been implicated as a major driver for recent ice shelf collapse as well as the speedup of tributary glaciers in the northeast Antarctic Peninsula. Surface melt on the NAP is impacted by the strength and frequency of westerly winds, which result in sporadic foehn flow. We estimate changes in the frequency of foehn flow and the associated impact on snow melt, density, and the percolation depth of meltwater over the period 1982–2017 using a regional climate model and passive microwave data. The first of two methods extracts spatial patterns of melt occurrence using empirical orthogonal function analysis. The second method applies the Foehn Index, introduced here to capture foehn occurrence over the full study domain. Both methods show substantial foehn-induced melt late in the melt season since 2015, resulting in compounded densification of the near-surface snow, with potential implications for future ice shelf stability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3822-38-31
Number of pages10
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Antarctic Peninsula
  • firn densification
  • foehn effect
  • Larsen C ice shelf
  • surface melt

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