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Geo-engineering experiment

The climatology component of the Antarctic 2.0 ° C project is structured around three studies based on three research axes:

  • the first takes place within the framework of a Master 2 internship at IGE from February to July 2021.

  • The second axis will be a two-month experimental approach at the level of the Antarctic Peninsula from January to February 2022.

  • The third level of study will correspond to a doctoral thesis which will begin in September 2022.

Understanding the causes of variations in the surface mass balance in Antarctica, where 90% of the land's ice is concentrated, is fundamental to assessing the impact of climate change on the evolution of sea level. In recent years, with the acceleration of the iceberg breakup, the loss of continental ice in the polar regions has become a critical contribution to sea level rise (Rignot et al., 2019). The surface mass balance of much of Antarctica is controlled by a few extreme events, resulting in high natural variability in this variable. Recent studies (Wille et al., 2019, 2020) show the essential role of the frequency of occurrence of atmospheric rivers on these variations.

Atmospheric rivers are air currents that form atmospheric filaments carrying warm, humid air from low to high latitudes . Although rare phenomena in Antarctica, atmospheric rivers have a major influence on the continent's mass balance; they generate extreme precipitation in East Antarctica (Gorodetskaya et al., 2014), 40% of the summer surface melt in parts of West Antarctica and 40-80% of the total winter melt along numerous ice shelves (Wille et al., 2019).

What are the physical characteristics of these rivers?

In the field, the aim will be to follow atmospheric rivers with isotopic measurements of snowfall and radio soundings. It will also be necessary to install an automatic weather station which will remain in place until the next campaign. In addition, if a river passes during the period of presence on site, the release of sounding balloons will make it possible to characterize its atmospheric profile.

In collaboration with :

Vincent Favier - IGE

Irina Gorodetskaya - CESAM

Cecile Agosta - LSCE

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