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Snowdrift modelling for Vestfonna ice cap, north-eastern Svalbard

DOI: 10.5194/tcd-7-709-2013

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Abstract:

The redistribution of snow by drifting and blowing snow frequently leads to an inhomogeneous snow mass distribution on larger ice caps. Together with the thermodynamic impact of drifting snow sublimation on the lower atmospheric boundary layer, these processes affect the glacier surface mass balance. This study provides a first quantification of snowdrift and sublimation of blowing and drifting snow on Vestfonna ice cap (Svalbard) by using the specifically designed "snow2blow" snowdrift model. The model is forced by atmospheric fields from the Weather Research and Forecasting model and resolves processes on a spatial resolution of 250 m. Comparison with radio-echo soudings and snow-pit measurements show that important local scale processes are resolved by the model and the overall snow accumulation pattern is reproduced. The findings indicate that there is a significant redistribution of snow mass from the interior of the ice cap to the surrounding areas and ice slopes. Drifting snow sublimation of suspended snow is found to be stronger during winter. It is concluded that both processes are strong enough to have a significant impact on glacier mass balance.

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