Title: Firn Structure Evolution at WAIS Divide
Author: Harwell, E.N., Albert, M.R., Gregory, S. and Keegan, K.M.
Periodical: American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2013, abstract #C13B-0669

The polar ice sheets serve as natural archives of past climate, as well as sensitive indicators of current climate change. The physical structure of snow and firn is sensitive to local environmental changes. The top 60-120 m of wide expanses of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets consists of firn, snow that is more than a year old. This porous structure serves as a natural archive of past atmospheric composition and plays an important role in the initiation of the ice core record of past atmospheres, and also plays a key role in remote sensing. This paper examines the physical nature of firn at the WAIS Divide ice core site in West Antarctica. Measurements of the density and permeability profiles are reported from the surface over the depth of the firn column profile. The WAIS Divide ice core site was chosen to be the Antarctic analog of the high-resolution GISP2 core from Summit, Greenland; both sites are cold sites with high accumulation rates. We describe similarities and differences in the structure of firn by comparing measurements from WAIS Divide and Summit, and we identify causes for differences.

Year: 2013