Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Geophysics



Major Advisor

John Bradford, Ph.D.


H.P. Marshall, Ph.D.


Dylan Mikesell, Ph.D.


A priority of ice sheet surface mass balance (SMB) prediction is ascertaining the surface density and annual snow accumulation. These forcing data are inputs for firn density models and can be used to inform remotely sensed ice sheet surface processes and to assess Regional Climate Model (RCM) skill. The Greenland Traverse for Accumulation and Climate Studies (GreenTrACS) retrieved 16 shallow firn cores and dug 42 snow pits along the Western percolation zone of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) during May and June of 2016 and 2017. I deployed and maintained a multi-channel 500 MHz ground-penetrating radar in a multi-offset configuration throughout the two traverse campaigns. The multi-channel radar technique accurately and independently estimates density, depth, and annual snow accumulation -- between the firn core and snow pit sites -- by horizon velocity analysis of common midpoint radar reflections from the snow and shallow firn. I analyzed a 45 km section of the traverse in a high accumulation zone, known as the GreenTrACS Core 15 Western Spur. Deviations in surface density up to +- 15 kg/m3 from the transect mean correlate with surface elevation and surface slope angle. Spatial variation in mean annual accumulation of ~0.175 m w.e. ɑ-1 occurs across a trough in the surface topography ~5 km wide. The reported variability of density and accumulation demonstrates that RCMs must be down-scaled to resolutions within 5 km to assess subtle yet significant contributions to the GrIS SMB.



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