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SnowAnt Project SERCE M.BurkeThe Action Group for Snow in Antarctica (SnowAnt) was established in 2014 and aimed to improve the knowledge on depositional and metamorphic processes in Antarctic snow and its feedbacks to the climate system; to develop a snow classification for Antarctica; to protect pristine snow areas, and to implement a database to document disturbed areas, historic snow profiles, accumulation data from AWS, stake farms, surface radar profiles, shallow firn–snow cores.

Over the period 2014 to 2016, SnowAnt activities were twofold: organization of Snow in Antarctica specific sessions at EGU 2016 (merged due to too few participants) and SCAR-OSC 2016. The other activity was the organization of the annual Snow Science Winter Schools, which brought about 50 students in contact with SCAR, and provided a sound background on modern methods in snow analysis:

  • 1st European Snow Science Winter School, Sodankylä, Finland (2015)
  • 2nd Snow Science Winter School Preda and Davos, Switzerland (2016)
  • 3rd Snow Science Winter School, Sodankylä, Finland (2017)
  • 4th Snow Science Winter School, Col du Lautaret, France (2018)

Significant progress has been made in recognizing snow as an important element of Antarctica, as demonstrated by successfully setting up a specific snow session for OSC 2016. However, it is extremely difficult to get researchers motivated to work for the very long-term objectives of SnowAnt.

For the period 2016 to 2018, the key initiative was to find additional active members for the Action Group. This was done by more actively promoting the topic within the Snow Science Schools and in other snow related conferences.

Collaboration with the Action Group on Geological Heritage and Geo-conservation (Geoconservation) was discussed during the OSC 2018. The goal of this collaboration is to use the knowledge with respect to the goals of protecting pristine snow areas and have the issue taken up by Antarctic Treaty member states.

The chair of the group was Martin Schneebeli of the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research, Davos, Switzerland.  Other members of the group included Katherine Leonard (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), Willem Jan van de Berg (Utrecht University), Ludovic Brucker (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), Alexey Ekaykin (Russian Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute), Lora Koenig (National Snow and Ice Data Center) and Marcel Nicolaus (Alfred-Wegener-Institut).


Terms of Reference

 The key goals for SnowAnt were to:

  • Investigate: Improve the knowledge on depositional and metamorphic processes in Antarctic snow and its feedbacks to the climate system; develop a snow classification for Antarctica.
  • Protect: What is disturbed today will be in the ice core for the next ~1 My – preserve pristine snow areas; currently disturbed areas have to be mapped and coordinated with national logistic operators.
  • Implement: SnowREADER (database) to document disturbed areas, historic snow profiles, accumulation data from AWS, stake farms, surface radar profiles, shallow firn – snow cores.
  • Educate and Coordinate: Quantitative snow stratigraphy methods developed by the IACS working group MicroSnow should be implemented by snow schools; recognize the importance of snow for SCAR.


Publications