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Atmospheric and hydrological boundary conditions for slushflow initiation due to snowmelt

  • Dieter Scherer (a1), Martin Gude (a2), Markus Gempeler (a1) and Eberhard Parlow (a1)
Abstract

Slush-flows of a large variety of magnitudes were observed during three field campaigns to Liefdefjorden, northwestern Spitsbergen, and one campaign to Kärke-vagge, northern Sweden. In the latter campaign, the release and movement of a slush torrent was documented on video and in photographs. Meteorological and snow-hydrological measurements carried out during these campaigns were analysed with respect to slushflow initiation due to snow-melt.

Since slushflows are quite common in polar and sub-polar drainage basins (although they are not restricted to these regions), specific atmospheric and hydrological boundary condittons must be fulfilled for slushflow initiation due to snowmelt. Radiative fluxes, air temperatures and wind velocities are the most important atmospheric variables, while snow depth, depth of the water-saturated layer, hydraulic conductivity and snow structure are the primary snow variables of interest.

It has been shown that slushflows can be released due to energy input in the snow cover by net radiation and sensible heat within the ordinary range of the high-latitudinal snow melt period. Slush torrent initiation is intensified by a superpositton of both energy fluxes. Infiltration losses were not significant even when permafrost was not present. Crucial for slushflow initiation due to snowmelt is the timing of energy input and meltwater flow through the snowpack.

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Annals of Glaciology
  • ISSN: 0260-3055
  • EISSN: 1727-5644
  • URL: /core/journals/annals-of-glaciology
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