Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-685
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-685
14 Mar 2024
 | 14 Mar 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Surface processes and drivers of the snow water stable isotopic composition at Dome C, East Antarctica – a multi-datasets and modelling analysis

Inès Ollivier, Hans Christian Steen-Larsen, Barbara Stenni, Laurent Arnaud, Mathieu Casado, Alexandre Cauquoin, Giuliano Dreossi, Christophe Genthon, Bénédicte Minster, Ghislain Picard, Martin Werner, and Amaëlle Landais

Abstract. Water stable isotope records in polar ice cores have been largely used to reconstruct past local temperatures and other climatic information such as evaporative source region conditions of the precipitation reaching the ice core sites. However, recent studies have identified post-depositional processes taking place at the ice sheet's surface modifying the original precipitation signal and challenging the traditional interpretation of ice core isotopic records. In this study, we use a combination of existing and new datasets of the precipitation, snow surface and subsurface isotopic compositions (δ18O and d-excess), meteorological parameters, ERA5 reanalyses, outputs from the isotope-enabled climate model ECHAM6-wiso, and a simple modelling approach to investigate the transfer function of water stable isotopes from precipitation to the snow surface and subsurface at Dome C, in East Antarctica. We first show that water vapor fluxes at the surface of the ice sheet result in a net annual sublimation of snow, from 3.1 to 3.7 mm water equivalent per year between 2018 and 2020, corresponding to 12 to 15 % of the annual surface mass balance. We find that the precipitation isotopic signal cannot fully explain the mean, nor the variability of the isotopic composition observed in the snow, from annual to intra-monthly timescales. We observe that the mean effect of post-depositional processes over the study period enriches the snow surface in δ18O by 3.3 ‰ to 6.6 ‰ and lowers the snow surface d-excess by 3.5 ‰ to 7.6 ‰ compared to the incoming precipitation isotopic signal. We also show that the mean isotopic composition of the subsurface snow is not statistically different from that of the surface snow, indicating the preservation of the mean isotopic composition of the surface snow in the top centimetres of the snowpack. This study confirms previous findings about the complex interpretation of the water stable isotopic signal in the snow and provides the first quantitative estimation of the impact of post-depositional processes on the snow isotopic composition at Dome C, a crucial step for the accurate interpretation of isotopic records from ice cores.

Inès Ollivier, Hans Christian Steen-Larsen, Barbara Stenni, Laurent Arnaud, Mathieu Casado, Alexandre Cauquoin, Giuliano Dreossi, Christophe Genthon, Bénédicte Minster, Ghislain Picard, Martin Werner, and Amaëlle Landais

Status: open (until 09 May 2024)

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Inès Ollivier, Hans Christian Steen-Larsen, Barbara Stenni, Laurent Arnaud, Mathieu Casado, Alexandre Cauquoin, Giuliano Dreossi, Christophe Genthon, Bénédicte Minster, Ghislain Picard, Martin Werner, and Amaëlle Landais
Inès Ollivier, Hans Christian Steen-Larsen, Barbara Stenni, Laurent Arnaud, Mathieu Casado, Alexandre Cauquoin, Giuliano Dreossi, Christophe Genthon, Bénédicte Minster, Ghislain Picard, Martin Werner, and Amaëlle Landais

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Short summary
The role of post-depositional processes taking place at the ice sheet's surface on the water stable isotope signal measured in polar ice cores is not fully understood. Using field observations and modelling results, we show that the original precipitation isotopic signal at Dome C, East Antarctica, is modified by post-depositional processes and provide the first quantitative estimation of their mean impact on the isotopic signal observed in the snow.