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Snow Loss into Leads in Arctic Sea Ice: Minimal in Typical Wintertime Conditions, but High During a Warm and Windy Snowfall Event
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  • David Clemens-Sewall,
  • Chris M Polashenski,
  • Markus Michael Frey,
  • Christopher J. Cox,
  • Mats Anders Granskog,
  • Amy Macfarlane,
  • Steven Fons,
  • Julia Schmale,
  • Jennifer Katy Hutchings,
  • Luisa von Albedyll,
  • Stefanie Arndt,
  • Martin Schneebeli,
  • Donald Perovich
David Clemens-Sewall
Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Chris M Polashenski
USACE-CRREL/Dartmouth College
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Markus Michael Frey
British Antarctic Survey
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Christopher J. Cox
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Mats Anders Granskog
Norwegian Polar Institute
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Amy Macfarlane
WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF
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Steven Fons
University of Maryland - College Park
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Julia Schmale
École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
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Jennifer Katy Hutchings
Oregon State University
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Luisa von Albedyll
Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research
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Stefanie Arndt
Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
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Martin Schneebeli
WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF
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Donald Perovich
Dartmouth College
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The amount of snow on Arctic sea ice impacts the ice mass budget. Wind redistribution of snow into open water in leads is hypothesized to cause significant wintertime snow loss. However, there are no direct measurements of snow loss into Arctic leads. We measured the snow lost in four leads in the Central Arctic in winter 2020. We find, contrary to the general consensus, that under typical winter conditions, minimal snow was lost into leads. However, during a cyclone that delivered warm air temperatures, high winds, and snowfall, 35.0 ± 1.1 cm snow water equivalent (SWE) was lost into a lead (per unit lead area). This corresponded to a removal of 0.7–1.1 cm SWE from the entire surface—∼6–10% of this site’s annual snow precipitation. Warm air temperatures, which increase the length of time that wintertime leads remain unfrozen, may be an underappreciated factor in snow loss into leads.
22 Feb 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
27 Feb 2023Published in ESS Open Archive