A doubling in snow accumulation in the western Antarctic Peninsula since 1850

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Abstract

[1] We present results from a new medium depth (136 metres) ice core drilled in a high accumulation site (73.59°S, 70.36°W) on the south-western Antarctic Peninsula during 2007. The Gomez record reveals a doubling of accumulation since the 1850s, from a decadal average of 0.49 mweq y−1 in 1855–1864 to 1.10 mweq y−1 in 1997–2006, with acceleration in recent decades. Comparison with published accumulation records indicates that this rapid increase is the largest observed across the region. Evaluation of the relationships between Gomez accumulation and the primary modes of atmospheric circulation variability reveals a strong, temporally stable and positive relationship with the Southern Annular Mode (SAM). Furthermore, the SAM is demonstrated to be a primary factor in governing decadal variability of accumulation at the core site (r = 0.66). The association between Gomez accumulation and ENSO is complex: while sometimes statistically significant, the relationship is not temporally stable. Thus, at decadal scales we can utilise the Gomez accumulation as a suitable proxy for SAM variability but not for ENSO.

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