The GLACIOCLIM SurfAce Mass Balance of
Antarctica Observatory (GLACIOCLIM-SAMBA)
360° panoramic view from Astrolabe Glacier, Terre Adélie,
Antarctica. Photo C. Genthon, LGGE.
The GLACIOCLIM SurfAce Mass Balance of Antarctica (GLACIOCLIM-SAMBA)
observatory is part of the GLACIOCLIM Glaciers Observatory, a french
observation system to monitor the surface mass balance of various
glaciers in the world and understand
how it relates to climate variability and change.
The GLACIOCLIM initiative is coordinated by Christian Vincent (CNRS)
and Patrick Wagnon (IRD), both at Laboratoire de Glaciologie et
Géophysique de l'Environnement (LGGE) in Grenoble, France. The
Antarctic component of the observatory (SAMBA), the subject of this web
site, is managed by Christophe Genthon (CNRS), also at LGGE (contact:
email@example.com) . LGGE is a mixt CNRS
(Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) / UJF (Université
Joseph-Fourrier, Grenoble) laboratory, with an IRD (Institut de
Recherche pour le Développement) component. LGGE is part of
OSUG, Grenoble's Sciences of the Universe Observatory.
At present, the GLACIOCLIM Observatory monitors 5 glaciers in the
french Alps, 2 glaciers in the Andes, and some of Antarctica in Terre
Adélie and Wilkes Land. Thus, GLACIOCLIM deals with glaciers in
tropical, temperate and polar regions. The network is expected to
further expand in the future, i.e. in the Himalayan region. Detailed
information on the tropical and temperate activities of GLACIOCLIM are
available at (http addresses to be posted).
Monitoring is carried out with similar methods on all glaciers:
- Glacier regions where ablation dominates are monitored using ablation
- Glacier regions where accumulation dominates are monitored using
accumulation stakes. Wooden accumulation stakes are used on temperate
and tropical glaciers as well as on the Antarctic plateau, while
polycarbonate stakes are used in
on the Antarctic slope because they are more flexible and may thus
withstand stronger winds.
- Snow density is also evaluated in accumulation areas in order to
translate snow into water equivalent accumulation. If ablation affects
snow rather than
ice surfaces, then density is also evaluated.
- Automatic Weather Stations (AWS), including radiation monitoring
instruments, are set up on or near the glaciers in order to monitor the
surface meteorology and, in particular, evaluate the contribution of
the surface energy balance to the ablation terms in the surface mass
Various kinds of stakes, set up, and other GLACIOCLIM field
activities in Antarctica can be see at the photo gallery
The surface mass balance equation may be written:
B = P - S - M + O
where B is the surface mass balance
P is precipitation
S is sublimation
M is melt followed by evaporation or runoff
O accounts for other terms like erosion and
export/enhanced sublimation/redistribution by wind.
Research programs for mass balance data analysis, local snow and ice
mass and energy balance modeling, glacier flow modeling, and large
scale climate modeling, in particular, will benefit from the data
provided by GLACIOCLIM. This is the case, for instance, of the
french Climate Change and Cryosphere (C3) program, currently supported
by the french ministry of sciences and Institut
National des Sciences de l'Univers (INSU). See also the
LGGE Antarctic variability page.
The Observation System in Antarctica: GLACIOCLIM-SAMBA
French and French-Italian stations in Terre Adélie and at Dome C
(Wilkes Land) provide an opportunity (i.e. access and logistical
for long term monitoring of the surface mass balance of Antarctica in
regions. The projected observation system includes stakes networks on
coastal blue ice at Cap Prudhomme near the Dumont d'Urville station and
Dome C near the Concordia station, as well as a 150 km stakes line
from Cap Prudhomme inland, in the general direction of Dome C (see map
Meteorological observations are currently available at Dumont d'Urville
(Météo-France operational weather station on Petrels
Island, 5km from the coast), at
Cap Prudhomme (GLACIOCLIM automatic weather station) on the coast, at
and D47 (~5 km and ~150 km inland from Cap Prudhomme; University of
Antarctic Meteorological Research
Program Automatic Weather Stations [AMRC-AWS]) and at Dome C
Most field equipment, access to and life support in Antarctica for
scientists in charge of the program, and logistical support for setting
maintaining and regularly monitoring the observation system, are
provided by the french polar institute (IPEV). This is IPEV program 411.
The French Ministry of Research and National Institute for Sciences of
Universe (INSU) also provide support to this programme.
The stakes line is surveyed once a year during the Antarctic summer.
The Dome C stakes are monitored once a year in summer at least, and
also in winter
for the network close to the Concordia station. The Cap Prudhomme blue
ice network is surveyed in
winter provided access from the Dumont d'Urville station is safe
(unlikely in austral fall as long as sea-ice is not firmly
established). Meteorological data are basically available year
The program was initiated in early 2004. See the program status as of mid-february 2006
Observatory reports :
- The 2004-05 field season report is available (in french) here
- A preliminary analysis of first year data is available (in french) here
- The 2005-06 field season report is available (in french) here.
(The report also provides some preliminary analysis of the results)
- A specific report on the 2005-06 coastal geodetic differential GPS
survey is available (in french) here
- The 2006-07 field season report is available (in french) here.
- An analysis of the Cap Prudhomme meteorological data, and
tentative simulations of SMB there (in french) here
- A study of accumulation and ice dynamics in Adélie Land
from GLACIOCLIM-SAMBA data (in french) here
- The 2007-08 field season report is available (partially in french) here part Adelie Land and here part Dome C.
- A study of the observed and modeled SMB along the GLACIOCLIM-SAMBA transect (in french) here
- The 2008-09 field season report is available here part Adelie Land including parts on Concordiasi program (in french) and here part Dome C also including some Concordiasi (in english) .
- A "blue ice" publication using observatory data (abstract, full paper
on request) here
- A Dome C publication reporting observatory data (abstract and
- A review of surface mass balance in East Antarctica reporting
observatory data and methods (abstract)
- Study of precipitation change over Antarctica with some amphasis on coastal vs plateau
Other publications more loosely related to GLACIOCLIM :
- A study of the lower atmospheric boundary layer at Dome C and comparison with MAR model (in french) here
- A method to reconstruct precipitation evevents in Antarctica with satellite passive microwave data (in french) here
- Do climate models really understimate precipitation on the Antarctic plateau? here
- Data from the GLACIOCLIM-SAMBA observatory are available here
For any further inquiry on GLACIOCLIM-SAMBA, courriel.