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Journal of Glaciology


Department of Earth Sciences


Accumulation is a key parameter governing the mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet. Several studies have documented the spatial variability of accumulation over wide spatial scales, primarily using point data, remote sensing or modeling. Direct measurements of spatially extensive, detailed profiles of accumulation in Greenland, however, are rare. We used 400 MHz ground-penetrating radar along the 1009 km route of the Greenland Inland Traverse from Thule to Summit during April and May of 2011, to image continuous internal reflecting horizons. We dated these horizons using ice-core chemistry at each end of the traverse. Using density profiles measured along the traverse, we determined the depth to the horizons and the corresponding water-equivalent accumulation rates. The measured accumulation rates vary from ~0.1 m w.e. a–1 in the interior to ~0.7 m w.e. a–1 near the coast, and correspond broadly with existing published model results, though there are some excursions. Comparison of our recent accumulation rates with those collected along a similar route in the 1950s shows a ~10% increase in accumulation rates over the past 52 years along most of the traverse route. This implies that the increased water vapor capacity of warmer air is increasing accumulation in the interior of Greenland.



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