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Characterization of active layer water contents in the McMurdo Sound region, Antarctica

The liquid soil water contents in the seasonally thawed layer (active layer) were characterized from seven soil climate monitoring sites - four coastal sites from south to north (Minna Bluff, Scott Base, Marble Point and Granite Harbour), and inland sites from low to high altitude (Wright Valley, Victoria Valley and Mount Fleming). Mean water contents ranged from 0.013 m³ m⁻³ near the surface at Victoria Valley to 0.013 m³ m⁻³ near the ice-cemented layer at Granite Harbour. The coastal sites have greater soil water contents than the McMurdo Dry Valley and Mount Fleming sites, and moisture contents increase with depth in the active layer. The Wright Valley site receives very little infiltration from snowmelt, with none in most years. All other sites, except Mount Fleming, received between one and four wetting events per summer, and infiltrated water moved to greater depths (≈ 10–25 cm). The Scott Base and Granite Harbour sites are on sloping ground and receive a subsurface flow of water along the ice-cemented permafrost. Our findings indicate that water contents are low with very little recharge, are greatly influenced by the local microclimate and topography, and show no significant increasing or decreasing trend over 10 years of monitoring.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Seybold, C.A., Balks, M.R. & Harms, D.S. (2010). Characterization of active layer water contents in the McMurdo Sound region, Antarctica. Antarctic Science, 22(6), 633-645.
Cambridge University Press
Copyright Antarctic Science Ltd 2010.