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Spatial variations in the winter heat flux at SHEBA: estimates from snow–ice interface temperatures

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The temperature of the snow–ice interface was measured every 2.4 h throughout winter 1997/98 at 30 locations near the Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean (SHEBA) camp in the Beaufort Sea. Measurements were obtained from young ice, ridges, refrozen melt ponds and ice hummocks. Average snow depths at these locations were 5–67cm, while mean interface temperatures ranged from −8° to −25°C, with minimums varying from −12° to −39°C. Interface temperatures were linearly related to snow depth, with increasing scatter at greater depths. The conductive heat flux during the winter, Fc, was estimated for each location using air and interface temperatures, snow depths and measured snow thermal conductivities. Fc was integrated to determine total heat loss for the winter at each site. Losses varied by a factor of four, with variations over short distances (10 m) as large as the variations between ice floes. Spot measurements along traverse lines confirm that large variations in interface temperature are common, and imply that small-scale spatial variability in the conductive flux is widespread. A comparison of the dependence of Fc on snow depth and ice thickness based on our observations with the dependence predicted by a one-dimensional theoretical model suggests that spatial heterogeneity may be an important issue to consider when estimating the heat flux over large aggregate areas. We suggest that the small-scale variability in the conductive flux arises because the combined snow and ice geometry can produce significant horizontal conduction of heat.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2001

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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