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An empirical firn-densification model comprising ice lenses

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In the past, several empirical firn-densification models have been developed fitted to measured density–depth profiles from Greenland and Antarctica. These models do not specifically deal with refreezing of meltwater in the firn. Ice lenses are usually indirectly taken into account by choosing a suitable value of the surface snow density. In the present study, a simple densification model is developed that specifically accounts for the content of ice lenses in the snowpack. An annual layer is considered to be composed of an ice fraction and a firn fraction. It is assumed that all meltwater formed at the surface in one year will refreeze in the corresponding annual layer, and that no additional melting or refreezing occurs in deeper layers. With this assumption, further densification is solely controlled by compaction of the firn fraction of the annual layer. Comparison of modelled and observed depth–density profiles from Canadian Arctic ice-core sites with large melting–refreezing percentages shows good agreement. The model is also used to estimate the long-term surface elevation change in interior Greenland that will result from temperature-driven changes of density–depth profiles. These surface elevation changes reflect a volume change of the ice sheet with no corresponding change of mass, i.e. a volume change that does not influence global sea level.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2005-08-01

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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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