Submitted as: model evaluation paper 16 Dec 2020

Submitted as: model evaluation paper | 16 Dec 2020

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal GMD.

Performance of MAR (v3.11) in simulating the drifting-snow climate and surface mass balance of Adelie Land, East Antarctica

Charles Amory1,2, Christoph Kittel1, Louis Le Toumelin2,3, Cécile Agosta4, Alison Delhasse1, Vincent Favier2, and Xavier Fettweis1 Charles Amory et al.
  • 1Department of Geography, UR SPHERES, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium
  • 2Univ. Grenoble Alpes, CNRS, Institut des Géosciences de l’Environnement, Grenoble, France
  • 3Univ. Grenoble Alpes, Université de Toulouse, Météo-France, CNRS, CNRM, Centre d’Études de la Neige, Grenoble, France
  • 4Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, LSCE-IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, Gif-sur-Yvette, France

Abstract. Drifting snow, or the wind-driven transport of snow particles and their concurrent sublimation, is a poorly documented process on the Antarctic ice sheet, inherently lacking in most climate models. Since drifting snow mostly results from erosion of surface particles, a comprehensive evaluation of this process in climate models requires a concurrent assessment of simulated transport and the surface mass balance (SMB). In this paper a new version of the drifting-snow scheme currently embedded in the regional climate model MAR (v3.11) is extensively described. Several important modifications relative to previous version have been implemented and include notably a parameterisation for drifting-snow compaction, differentiated snow density at deposition between precipitation and drifting snow, and a rewriting of the threshold friction velocity for snow erosion. Model results at high resolution (10 km) over Adelie Land, East Antarctica, for the period 2004–2018 are presented and evaluated against available near-surface meteorological observations at half-hourly resolution and annual SMB estimates. MAR resolves the local drifting-snow frequency and transport up the scale of the drifting-snow event and captures the resulting observed climate and SMB variability. This suggests that this model version can be used for continent-wide applications, and that the approach of drifting-snow physics as proposed in MAR can serve as a basis for implementation in earth system models.

Charles Amory et al.

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Status: final response (author comments only)
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Charles Amory et al.

Data sets

Amory et al. (2020), Geoscientific Model Development: data, model outputs and source code Charles Amory

Charles Amory et al.


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Short summary
This paper presents recent developments in the drifting-snow scheme of the regional climate model MAR and its application to simulate drifting snow and the surface mass balance of Adelie Land in East Antarctica. The model is extensively described and evaluated against a multi-year drifting-snow dataset and SMB estimates available in the area. The model sensitivity to input parameters and improvements over a previously published version are also assessed.