Influence of snowpack internal structure on snow metamorphism and melting intensity on Hansbreen, Svalbard

Journal title

Polish Polar Research




vol. 37


No 2

Publication authors


Arctic ; glaciology ; Hornsund ; Meltwater ; Snow cover ; Spitsbergen

Divisions of PAS

Nauki o Ziemi




This paper presents a detailed study of melting processes conducted on Hansbreen - a tidewater glacier terminating in the Hornsund fjord, Spitsbergen. The fieldwork was carried out from April to July 2010. The study included observations of meltwater distribution within snow profiles in different locations and determination of its penetration time to the glacier ice surface. In addition, the variability of the snow temperature and heat transfer within the snow cover were measured. The main objective concerns the impact of meltwater on the diversity of physical characteristics of the snow cover and its melting dynamics. The obtained results indicate a time delay between the beginning of the melting processes and meltwater reaching the ice surface. The time necessary for meltwater to percolate through the entire snowpack in both, the ablation zone and the equilibrium line zone amounted to c. 12 days, despite a much greater snow depth at the upper site. An elongated retention of meltwater in the lower part of the glacier was caused by a higher amount of icy layers (ice formations and melt-freeze crusts), resulting from winter thaws, which delayed water penetration. For this reason, a reconstruction of rain-on-snow events was carried out. Such results give new insight into the processes of the reactivation of the glacier drainage system and the release of freshwater into the sea after the winter period.


Committee on Polar Research ; Polish Academy of Sciences




Artykuły / Articles


ISSN 0138-0338 ; eISSN 2081-8262


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