Is snowfall in Antarctica linked to rainfall in Australia?
Research into snowfall variability at Law Dome, just inland from Casey station, suggests that it may be linked to climate in the Australian sector of the Southern Ocean and southwest Western Australia.
Law Dome is directly south of Western Australia and is the most northerly continental point in East Antarctica. This location gives Law Dome a strong maritime climate and a very high snow accumulation rate – equivalent to around 64 cm of water per year. Ice cores drilled at Law Dome provide a record of annual variations in snowfall that can presently be extended back over seven centuries. This record can be compared with meteorological data in the recent past.
Early results show that the snowfall at Law Dome is significantly inversely correlated with the climate at mid-latitudes, extending as far as southern Australia. These results may shed light on recent changes in southern Australian climate, such as the declining rainfall in south-west Western Australia. Further work is underway to explore these connections and understand the reasons behind them.
TAS VAN OMMEN, Ice, Ocean, Atmosphere and Climate programme, AAD