The depth and density of the Antarctic firn layer is modeled, using a combination of regional climate model output and a steady-state firn densification model. The modeled near-surface climate (temperature, wind speed, and accumulation) and the depth of two critical density levels (550 kg m−3 and 830 kg m−3) agree well with climate and firn density observations selected from >50 Antarctic coring sites (r = 0.90–0.99, p < 0.0001). The wide range of near-surface climate conditions in Antarctica forces a strong spatial variability in the depth and density of the Antarctic firn pack. In the calm, dry, and very cold interior, densification is slow and the firn-layer thickness exceeds 100 m and the firn age at pore close-off 2000 years. In the windier, wetter, and milder coastal zone, densification is more rapid and the firn layer shallower, typically 40–60 m, and younger, typically <50 years.
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Vol. 40 • No. 2