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Temperature variations in lake ice in central Alaska, USA

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In winter 2002/03 and 2003/04, thermistors were installed in the ice on two shallow ponds in central Alaska, USA, in order to obtain data on ice temperatures and their response to increasing and decreasing air temperatures, and flooding and snow-ice formation. Snow depth and density, and ice thickness were also measured in order to understand how they affected and were affected by ice temperature variability. The lowest ice temperature (−15.5°C) and steepest temperature gradient (−39.8°C m−1) occurred during a 9 week period in autumn 2002/03 when there was no snow on the ice. With snow on the ice, temperature gradients were more typically in the range −20 to −5°C m−1. Average ice temperatures were lower during the warmer, first winter, and higher during the cooler, second winter because of differences in the depth and duration of the snow cover. Isothermal ice near the freezing point resulted from flooding and snow-ice formation, and brief episodes of warm weather with freezing rain. Under these circumstances, congelation-ice growth at the bottom of the ice cover was interrupted, even reversed. It is suggested that the patterns in temperatures brought about by the snow-ice formation and rain events may become more prevalent due to the increase in frequency of these events in central Alaska if temperature and precipitation change as predicted by Arctic climate models.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2005

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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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