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Collaborative Research: Characteristics of Snow Megadunes and their Potential Effects on Ice Core Interpretation
Entry ID: scambos_0125570

Abstract: Field study and remote sensing measurements of an area of snow megadunes on the
East Antarctic plateau provides a preliminary assessment of dune morphology,
firn structure, and layering in the features. Snow megadunes are undulating
variations in accumulation and surface texture, with wavelengths of 2 to 5 km
and amplitudes up to 5 meters. The features cover 500,000 km2 of ... View entire text
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Description: The Antarctic Glaciological Data Center (AGDC) at the National Snow and Ice
Data Center (NSIDC) archives and distributes Antarctic glaciological and
cryospheric system data collected by the U.S. Antarctic Program.

Description: Scientists from NSIDC have spent the last two Antarctic field seasons studying
one of the little-known megadunes areas of the continent. Ted Scambos, Rob
Bauer, and Terry Haran from NSIDC, along with a team of other researchers and
support staff, worked in extreme weather conditions to gather data in one of
the most remote parts of the world. Unlike snow dunes that are piles of drifted
snow, Antarctic megadunes are long, undulating waves in the surface of the ice
sheet. The dunes are 2 to 4 meters (6.5 to 13 feet) high and 2 to 5 kilometers
(1 to 3 miles) apart. Ted describes the dunes as "extremely gentle waves or
stripes in the snow."

The team conducted field research collecting snow pit samples, setting up
automatic weather stations (AWS), traversing via snowmobile with
ground-penetrating radar (GPR) devices, photographing various sites, and
drilling shallow and deep ice cores.

The first year, field work was conducted during November 2002. The second
season was during December 2003 and January 2004.
Access Constraints Available to the Public via internet
Use Constraints We request that users of NSIDC data cite the use of our data in their work.

Citation of data acquired from NSIDC acknowledges data contributors, and allows
us to track the use and impact of our data, to more effectively report data
distribution activity to funding agencies, and to assist other users who may
... View entire text
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National Snow and Ice Data Center Supplemental Info
Data Center URL:

Data Center Personnel
Phone: +1 (303) 492-6199
Fax: +1 (303) 492-2468
Email: nsidc at
Contact Address:
National Snow and Ice Data Center
University of Colorado
City: Boulder
Province or State: CO
Postal Code: 80309-0449
Country: USA
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Distribution Media: ftp
Fees: none
Phone: 303-492-2378
Fax: 303-492-2468
Email: bauer at
Contact Address:
University of Colorado
Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences
City: Boulder
Province or State: CO
Postal Code: 80309
Country: USA
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Fahnestock, M., Scambos, T., Shuman, C., Arthern, R., Winebrenner, D. and Kwok,
R. (2000). Snow megadune fields on the East Antarctic Plateau: Extreme
atmosphere-ice interaction. Geophysical Research Letters 27(22): doi:
10.1029/1999GL011248. issn: 0094-8276.
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Creation and Review Dates
DIF Creation Date: 2006-01-04
Last DIF Revision Date: 2017-08-23