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Temporal changes in the radiophysical properties of a polythermal glacier in Spitsbergen

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In order to study the seasonal and inter-seasonal variations in radio-wave velocity (RWV), radiophysical investigations were made at Hansbreen, a polythermal glacier in Spitsbergen, in July–August 2003 and April 2004. These investigations included repeated radar profiling (20 and 25 MHz) along a transverse profile, repeated common-midpoint measurements, continuous radar measurements during 8 days at a fixed site, meteorological observations, and continuous ice surface velocity monitoring by differential GPS. Seasonal and inter-seasonal RWV changes in the temperate ice layer are attributed, respectively, to rapid water redistribution within it during the summer, and to variations in water content from 2.1% in summer to 0.4% in spring. The reflection properties of the temperate ice layer correlate well with the air temperature, with a nearly semi-diurnal time lag. The temporal variability of the reflection properties of the internal horizon suggests enlargement of water inclusions or water drainage from the horizon. Repeated profiling shows a stable spatial pattern in bed reflection power interpreted as changes in water content controlled by bedrock topography. The spatial variations of internal reflection energy along the repeated profile correlate with the thickness of the cold ice layer and the occurrence of drainage and crevasse systems.

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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