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Antarctic Science

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McMurdo Dry Valleys (Antarctica), Glaciers -- Antarctica, Snow -- Antarctica -- Analysis, Eolian processes


We have determined the flux of calcium, chloride and nitrate to the McMurdo Dry Valleys region by analysing snow pits for their chemical composition and their snow accumulation using multiple records spanning up to 48 years. The fluxes demonstrate patterns related to elevation and proximity to the ocean. In general, there is a strong relationship between the nitrate flux and snow accumulation, indicating that precipitation rates may have a great influence over the nitrogen concentrations in the soils of the valleys. Aeolian dust transport plays an important role in the deposition of some elements (e.g. Caý?) into the McMurdo Dry Valleys. soils. Because of the antiquity of some of the soil surfaces in the McMurdo Dry Valleys regions, the accumulated atmospheric flux of salts to the soils has important ecological consequences. Although precipitation may be an important mechanism of salt deposition to the McMurdo Dry Valley surfaces, it is poorly understood because of difficulties in measurement and high losses from sublimation.


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