A quantitative assessment of snow shielding effects on surface exposure dating from a western North American 10Be data compilation

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Abstract

To better assess the spatiotemporal variations of the snow shielding effect on surface exposure dating, we compiled a dataset of 1341 10Be ages from alpine moraines and glacially eroded valleys across western North America, and conducted a sensitivity test with both modern and time-integrated snow data covering the same region. Our analyses reveal significant differences in snow shielding both across our geographic domain and through time. In our time-integrated experiments we find snow-based exposure age corrections as low as 3.5% in the Great Basin region and high as 28.4% in the Pacific Northwest for samples dating to the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) when no wind-sweeping is assumed. As demonstrated with our time-varying snow conditions with a global climate model and a positive degree day model, modern snow conditions across western North America cannot account for the varying snow patterns under large scale climate shifts since the LGM. The snow-based exposure age corrections from the modern data differ from those calculated by our time-varying model by up to 17% across our model domain. In addition, we find that the 10Be ages calculated under two end-member scenarios regarding wind-sweeping effects, specifically whether boulders were shielded only when the total snow accumulation exceeded boulder heights or were always shielded when the snow was present, can differ by ∼7.6% on average for LGM aged samples. Our analyses provide a model-based estimates of the spatiotemporal variability and complexity of snow shielding effects on surface exposure dates across western North America and highlight the need to consider snow depth variations both spatially and temporally when conducting surface exposure dating in terrains where snowfall accumulation is significant.

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Ye, S., Cuzzone, J. K., Marcott, S. A., Licciardi, J. M., Ward, D. J., Heyman, J., & Quinn, D. P. (2023). A quantitative assessment of snow shielding effects on surface exposure dating from a western North American 10Be data compilation. Quaternary Geochronology, 76. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quageo.2023.101440

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