Variation of accumulation rates over the last eight centuries on the East Antarctic Plateau derived from volcanic signals in ice cores



[1] Volcanic signatures in ice-core records provide an excellent means to date the cores and obtain information about accumulation rates. From several ice cores it is thus possible to extract a spatio-temporal accumulation pattern. We show records of electrical conductivity and sulfur from 13 firn cores from the Norwegian-USA scientific traverse during the International Polar Year 2007–2009 (IPY) through East Antarctica. Major volcanic eruptions are identified and used to assess century-scale accumulation changes. The largest changes seem to occur in the most recent decades with accumulation over the period 1963–2007/08 being up to 25% different from the long-term record. There is no clear overall trend, some sites show an increase in accumulation over the period 1963 to present while others show a decrease. Almost all of the sites above 3200 m above sea level (asl) suggest a decrease. These sites also show a significantly lower accumulation value than large-scale assessments both for the period 1963 to present and for the long-term mean at the respective drill sites. The spatial accumulation distribution is influenced mainly by elevation and distance to the ocean (continentality), as expected. Ground-penetrating radar data around the drill sites show a spatial variability within 10–20% over several tens of kilometers, indicating that our drill sites are well representative for the area around them. Our results are important for large-scale assessments of Antarctic mass balance and model validation.