We describe the spatial variability of snow accumulation on three selected glaciers in Spitsbergen (Hansbreen, Werenskioldbreen and Aavatsmarkbreen) in the winter seasons of 1988/89, 1998/99 and 2001/2002 respectively. The distribution of snow cover is determined by the interrelationships between the direction of the glacier axes and the dominant easterly winds. The snow distribution is regular on the glaciers located E-W, but is more complicated on the glaciers located meridionally. The western part of glaciers is more predisposed to the snow accumulation than the eastern. This is due to snowdrift intensity. Statistical relationships between snow accumulation, deviation of accumulation from the mean values and accumulation variability related to topographic parameters such as: altitude, slope inclination, aspect, slope curvature and distance from the edge of the glacier have been determined. The only significant relations occured between snow accumulation and altitude (r = 0.64-0.91).
The spatial distribution of snow thickness on glaciers is driven by a set of climatological, meteorological, topographical and orographic conditions. This work presents results of snow accumulation studies carried out from 2006 to 2009 on glaciers of different types: valley glacier, ice plateau and ice cap. In order to determine snow depth, a shallow radio echo−sounding method was used. Based on the results, the following snow distribution patterns on Svalbard glaciers have been distinguished: precipitation pattern, precipitation−redistribution pattern, redistribution pattern and complex pattern. The precipitation pattern assumes that the snow distribution on glaciers follows the altitudinal gradient. If the accumulation gradient is significantly modified by local factors like wind erosion and redeposition, or local variability of precipitation, the accumulation pattern turns into the precipitation−redistribution pattern. In the redistribution pattern, local factors play a crucial role in the spatial variability of snow depth. The complex pattern, however, demonstrates the co−existence of different snow distribution patterns on a single glacial object (glacier/ice cap/ice field).
Studies of a snow cover on the Waldemar Glacier have been carried out during three spring seasons. In spite of its small area, there is considerable spatial variation in snow deposition on the Waldemar Glacier, different during successive seasons. Winter snow accumulation was the highest in 1995/96 (75 cm in water equivalent), but almost similar in 1996/97 and 1997/98, equal to 48 cm and 42 cm w.e., respectively. Snow cover shows specific physico-chemical features, with many sorts of snow different in its structure, hardness, density and moistening. All analysed snow profiles comprised layers of different grain size and hardness. Volume of water trapped in naledies was estimated to about 457,000 m3 in May 1998. The average winter runoff from the glacier was estimated to 0.024 m3/s i.e. about 91/s.km2.
Snowmelt is a very important component of freshwater resources in the polar environment. Seasonal fluctuations in the water supply to glacial drainage systems influence glacier dynamics and indirectly affect water circulation and stratification in fjords. Here, we present spatial distribution of the meltwater production from the snow cover on Hansbreen in southern Spitsbergen. We estimated the volume of freshwater coming from snow deposited over this glacier. As a case study, we used 2014 being one of the warmest season in the 21st century. The depth of snow cover was measured using a high frequency Ground Penetrating Radar close to the maximum stage of accumulation. Simultaneously, a series of studies were conducted to analyse the structure of the snowpack and its physical properties in three snow pits in different glacier elevation zones. These data were combined to construct a snow density model for the entire glacier, which together with snow depth distribution represents essential parameters to estimate glacier winter mass balance. A temperature index model was used to calculate snow ablation, applying an average temperature lapse rate and surface elevation changes. Applying variable with altitude degree day factor, we estimated an average daily rate of ablation between 0.023 m d-1 °C-1 (for the ablation zone) and 0.027 m d-1 °C-1 (in accumulation zone). This melting rate was further validated by direct ablation data at reference sites on the glacier. An average daily water production by snowmelt in 2014 ablation season was 0.0065 m w.e. (water equivalent) and 41.52·106 m3 of freshwater in total. This ablation concerned 85.5% of the total water accumulated during winter in snow cover. Extreme daily melting exceeded 0.020 m w.e. in June and September 2014 with a maximum on 6th July 2014 (0.027 m w.e.). The snow cover has completely disappeared at the end of ablation season on 75.8% of the surface of Hansbreen.
It is generally accepted that ice cores archive amount-weighted water stable isotope signals. In order to achieve an improved understanding of the nature of water stable isotope signals stored in ice cores annual δ18O and δ2H averages (i.e. amount-weighted) were calculated for two Antarctic meteorological stations, Vernadsky and Hal-ley Bay, using monthly precipitation amount and monthly net accumulation as weights, respectively. These were then compared with the annual mean δ18O δ2H and records of the nearest available ice cores. In addition, at the stations, both arithmetic means (i.e. time-weighted) and amount-weighted (precipitation amount and net accumulation used as weights) annual air temperature averages were calculated and then compared to amount weighted annual mean δ18O and δ2H using correlation- and regression analyses. The main hypothesis was that amount weighted annual mean water isotope and temperature records from the stations would be able to replicate the annual water isotope signal stored in ice cores to a higher degree. Results showed that (i) amount weighting is incapable of ameliorating the signal replication between the stations and the ice cores, while arithmetic means gave the stronger linear relationships; (ii) post depositional processes may have a more determining effect on the isotopic composition of the firn than expected; and (iii) mean annual air temperature provided the closest match to ice core derived annual water isotope records. This latter conveys a similar message to that of recent findings, in as much as ambient temperature, via equilibrium isotope fractionation, is imprinted into the uppermost snow layer by vapor exchange even between precipitation events. Together, these observations imply that ice core stable water isotope records can be a more continuous archive of near-surface temperature changes than hitherto believed.