Numerical experiments on vapor diffusion in polar snow and firn and its impact on isotopes using the multi-layer energy balance model Crocus in SURFEX v8.0

Touzeau, Alexandra ; Landais, AmaŽlle ; Morin, Samuel ; Arnaud, Laurent ; Picard, Ghislain

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To evaluate the impact of vapor diffusion on isotopic composition variations in snow pits and then in ice cores, we introduced water isotopes in the detailed snowpack model Crocus. At each step and for each snow layer, (1) the initial isotopic composition of vapor is taken at equilibrium with the solid phase, (2) a kinetic fractionation is applied during transport, and (3) vapor is condensed or snow is sublimated to compensate for deviation to vapor pressure at saturation. We study the different effects of temperature gradient, compaction, wind compaction, and precipitation on the final vertical isotopic profiles. We also run complete simulations of vapor diffusion along isotopic gradients and of vapor diffusion driven by temperature gradients at GRIP, Greenland and at Dome C, Antarctica over periods of 1 or 10 years. The vapor diffusion tends to smooth the original seasonal signal, with an attenuation of 7 to 12 % of the original signal over 10 years at GRIP. This is smaller than the observed attenuation in ice cores, indicating that the model attenuation due to diffusion is underestimated or that other processes, such as ventilation, influence attenuation. At Dome C, the attenuation is stronger (18 %), probably because of the lower accumulation and stronger δ18O gradients.
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