Spatial mapping of multi-year superimposed ice on the glacier Kongsvegen, Svalbard

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Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and satellite ERS-2 synthetic aperture radar (SAR) are used to map the thickness and extent of the superimposed ice (SI) zone on the surge-type glacier Kongsvegen, Svalbard. GPR imagery shows sub-horizontal SI layers lying unconformably above a discrete boundary. Below this boundary, the ice has a GPR signature similar to that of ice further down-glacier in the ablation zone. This boundary is posited to represent the closing of crevasses that were created during the last surge of Kongsvegen in ∼1948. Open crevasses would have interrupted the formation of sheet layers of SI due to efficient vertical drainage of the snowpack. Aerial photographs suggest that the crevasses closed sometime in the period 1956–66. A classified SAR image from 2003 is used to delineate the extent of the SI zone. The SI extent in the SAR image agrees well with the SI zone mapped by GPR. Using the SI spatial depth distribution, we estimate the mean annual accumulation of superimposed ice to be 0.16 ± 0.06 m w.e.a−1 (locally up to 0.43 m a−1 w.e.). This corresponds to ∼15–33% of the local winter balance and ∼5–10% of the total winter balance measured since 1987.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2008

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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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