26 Apr 2023
 | 26 Apr 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Spatial and temporal variations in surface snow chemistry along a traverse from Dome C toward South Pole in the framework of East Antarctic International Ice Sheet Traverse (EAIIST) project

Simone Ventisette, Samuele Baldini, Claudio Artoni, Silvia Becagli, Laura Caiazzo, Barbara Delmonte, Massimo Frezzotti, Raffaello Nardin, Joel Savarino, Mirko Severi, Andrea Spolaor, Barbara Stenni, and Rita Traversi

Abstract. As part of the “East Antarctic International Ice Sheet Traverse” (EAIIST) project, surface snow and snow pit samples were collected along a traverse from Dome C toward the geographic South Pole during the 2019–2020 Antarctic campaign. Results on spatial distribution of major ions are here reported to understand deposition and post deposition processes in sites with very low snow accumulation rate in the East Antarctic Plateau where megadune and wind crust areas are present.

The volcanic signature of Pinatubo eruption (occurred in 1991) was clearly visible in the non-sea salt SO42− stratigraphy from two snow pits (AGO-5 and PALEO) allowing the determination of annual accumulation rates that revealed to be 25.7 and 22.6 mm of water equivalent/year, respectively at the two sites. Moreover, a decreasing trend in accumulation rate as the distance from the Indian Ocean increases was detected. Mineral dust concentration and size show presence of a criptotephra layer in AGO5 and PALEO stratigraphies which is stratigraphically compatible with the deposition of volcanic ash related to the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle explosive eruption occurred in June 2011. The ssNa+ fraction, accounting for the 92.5 % of the total Na+, is preserved stably in the snow layers and was chosen as marker of sea spray deposition. Despite the very low accumulation rate in this area, the main deposition process of sea spray aerosol is the wet deposition. Conversely, both biogenic and crustal nssSO42− are dry deposited, the total flux of nssSO42− resulted to be constant in the Antarctic plateau, but the biogenic to crustal ratio increases as distance from Dome C increases. The presence and quantification (by nssCa2+) of a dry deposited crustal source, as the biogenic one, sheds light on the interpretation of nssSO42− biogenic stratigraphy during glacial and interglacial time in Antarctic ice cores. NssCl represent the fraction of Cl deposited as HCl and arises from the exchange reactions between chloride in the sea salt aerosol and acidic species such as H2SO4 and HNO3 that occurs both into the atmosphere (in this case HCl is deposited by wet deposition) and into the snow (at the expenses of NaCl or MgCl2 deposited as sea salt aerosol). The latter process could be particularly efficient in sites affected by wind crust formation, probably because of a longer exposure time of the snow layers to the atmosphere favouring the HCl volatilization . Another important marker in ice core is HNO3, that in the considered sites is found at very high concentration in the most superficial 3 cm of snow due to the uptake by superficial snow and possibly concentration effects from the layers beneath, but it is reversibly deposited. The depth of the active layer for HNO3 reemission was calculated and it spans from 22 cm to 12 cm; in addition, the concentration preserved in the snow decreases as the accumulation rate decreases, but wind scouring increases the efficiency of re-emission processes in the active layer. The knowledge and quantification of all the above reported processes will allow the interpretation of the ice core stratigraphies in low accumulation site likely hopefully recording, at selected sites, the climate history of more than one million years ago.

Simone Ventisette et al.

Status: open (until 21 Jun 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-393', Anonymous Referee #1, 26 May 2023 reply
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Silvia Becagli, 30 May 2023 reply

Simone Ventisette et al.

Simone Ventisette et al.


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Short summary
The paper reports the spatial variability of concentration and fluxes of chemical impurities in superficial snow over unexplored area of the East Antarctic ice sheet. Pinatubo and Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcanic eruptions in non-sea salt sulfate and dust snow pits record were used to achieve the accumulation rates. Deposition (wet, dry and uptake from snow surface) and post deposition processes are constrained. These knowledges are fundamental in Antarctic ice cores stratigraphies interpretation.