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Superimposed ice formation and surface energy fluxes on sea ice during the spring melt–freeze period in the Baltic Sea

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The development of land-fast sea ice and overlying snow was monitored during a 4 week period, until the snow cover had completely disappeared, at a site in the Gulf of Bothnia, Baltic Sea (63.57° N, 19.85° E). The meteorological and radiative boundary conditions were continuously recorded. During the observation period, a 15 cm thick snow layer on the ice was transformed into a 7 cm thick granular ice layer (superimposed ice) on the ice surface, contributing significantly (about 11%) to the total ice thickness. Approximately 1 cm w.e. of the snow was sublimated. Neither snow-ice formation nor basal ice growth was significant during the same period. The salinity and isotopic (18O) composition of the ice indicated that prior to the experiment a 7 cm layer of superimposed ice had already formed. Hence, superimposed ice layers contributed 22% of the total ice thickness by the time all snow had disappeared. The advancing spring, decrease in surface albedo, diurnal cycle in the incoming solar radiation, and synoptic-scale changes in the cloud cover and the air–ice turbulent heat fluxes caused variations in the heat budget of the snowpack. Superimposed ice formation due to refreezing of meltwater occurred during most nights of the study period, and the most important refreezing periods were under such synoptic conditions that the air and snow surface temperatures also remained below zero during daytime. In contrast to typical summer conditions in polar oceans, low snow surface temperatures acted as the primary heat sink for the refreezing of meltwater.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2006-01-01

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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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