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Water movement in the firn of Storglaciären, Sweden

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The hydraulic properties of the firn on Storglaciären, Sweden, were investigated in firn cores by water-table measurements and pumping tests. The mean density of the firn was 800 850 kg m3, giving an effective porosity of 0.073. The lower part of the firn layer was saturated with water, producing a maximum saturated layer of 5 m in late July. Hydraulic conductivity of the firn aquifer was determined from pumping tests to be 4.9 × 105 m s1. Percolation velocity, calculated from the time lag of maximal water input at the glacier surface and the water-level peaks, was 0.25 m h1. Percolation velocity increased over the ablation season, indicating a widening of the percolation pathways. A decrease in percolation velocity with percolation depth was found, reflecting decreasing permeability. The firn‐water table responded to water input at the glacier surface with a delay of about 3 days. No diurnal variations were found in an area which was not influenced by fast drainage, indicating a diffusion of diurnal variations in meltwater production. One borehole intersected a water-filled cavity. Water level in this cavity showed diurnal variations, which probably were caused by diurnally produced meltwater waves moving fast through englacial conduits.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1999-06-01

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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