Project Information
Collaborative Research: Snow Transport in Katabatic Winds and Implications for the Antarctic Surface Mass Balance: Observations, Theory, and Numerical Modeling
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1. A non-technical explanation of the project's broader significance and importance, that serves as a public justification for NSF funding. This part should be understandable to an educated reader who is not a scientist or engineer. Katabatic or drainage winds, carry high-density air from a higher elevation down a slope under the force of gravity. Although katabatic flows are ubiquitous in alpine and polar regions, a surface-layer similarity theory is currently lacking for these flows, undermining the accuracy of numerical weather and climate prediction models. This project is interdisciplinary, and will give graduate and undergraduate students valuable experience interacting with researchers outside their core discipline. Furthermore, this project will broaden participating in science through recruitment of students from under-represented groups at OU and CU through established programs. The Antarctic Ice Sheet drives many processes in the Earth system through its modulation of regional and global atmospheric and oceanic circulations, storage of fresh water, and effects on global albedo and climate. An understanding of the surface mass balance of the ice sheets is critical for predicting future sea level rise and for interpreting ice core records. Yet, the evolution of the ice sheets through snow deposition, erosion, and transport in katabatic winds (which are persistent across much of the Antarctic) remains poorly understood due to the lack of an overarching theoretical framework, scarcity of in situ observational datasets, and a lack of accurate numerical modeling tools. Advances in the fundamental understanding and modeling capabilities of katabatic transport processes are urgently needed in view of the future climatic and snowfall changes that are projected to occur within the Antarctic continent. This project will leverage the expertise of a multidisciplinary team of investigators (with backgrounds spanning cryospheric science, environmental fluid mechanics, and atmospheric science) to address these knowledge gaps. 2. A technical description of the project that states the problem to be studied, the goals and scope of the research, and the methods and approaches to be used. In many cases, the technical project description may be a modified version of the project summary submitted with the proposal. Using field observations and direct numerical simulations of katabatic flow, this project is expected--- for the first time---to lead to a surface-layer similarity theory for katabatic flows relating turbulent fluxes to mean vertical gradients. The similarity theory will be used to develop surface boundary conditions for large eddy simulations (LES), enabling the first accurate LES of katabatic flow. The numerical tools that the PIs will develop will allow them to investigate how the partitioning between snow redistribution, transport, and sublimation depends on the environmental parameters typically encountered in Antarctica (e.g. atmospheric stratification, surface sloping angles, and humidity profiles), and to develop simple models to infer snow transport based on satellite remote sensing and regional climate models This award reflects the NSF statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the intellectual merit of the Foundation and broader impacts review criteria.
Person Role
Salesky, Scott Investigator and contact
Giometto, Marco Co-Investigator
Das, Indrani Co-Investigator
Antarctic Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences Award # 2035078
Antarctic Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences Award # 2034874
AMD - DIF Record(s)
Data Management Plan
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