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Water 2017, 9(10), 804; doi:10.3390/w9100804

Melting Characteristics of Snow Cover on Tidewater Glaciers in Hornsund Fjord, Svalbard

1
Faculty of Earth Sciences, University of Silesia in Katowice, Będzińska 60, 41-200 Sosnowiec, Poland
2
Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Księcia Janusza 64, 01-452 Warsaw, Poland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 August 2017 / Revised: 13 October 2017 / Accepted: 16 October 2017 / Published: 19 October 2017
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Abstract

In recent years, the Svalbard area, especially its southern section, has been characterised by an exceptionally thin snow cover, which has a significant impact of the annual mass balance of glaciers. The objective of this study was to determine melting processes of the snow cover deposited on 11 glaciers that terminate into Hornsund Fjord during the melting period of 2014. The study included analyses of snow pits and snow cores, meteorological data collected from automatic weather stations and Polish Polar Station Hornsund, and supervised classification of six Landsat 8 images for assessing the progress of snow cover melting. The calculated Snow-Covered Area (SCA) varied from 98% at the beginning of the melting season to 43% at the end of August. The melting vertical gradient on Hansbreen was −0.34 m 100 m−1, leading to surface melting of −1.4 cm water equivalent (w.e.) day−1 in the ablation zone (c. 200 m a.s.l. (above sea level)) and −0.7 cm w.e. day−1 in the accumulation zone (c. 400 m a.s.l.). Furthermore, the study identified several observed features such as low snow depth in the accumulation zone of the Hornsund glaciers, a large proportion of the snow layers (12–27%) produced by rain-on-snow events, and a frequent occurrence of summer thermal inversions (80% annually), indicating that the area is experiencing intensive climate changes. View Full-Text
Keywords: Landsat 8; supervised classification; Snow-Covered Area; freshwater; Arctic; climate change Landsat 8; supervised classification; Snow-Covered Area; freshwater; Arctic; climate change
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Laska, M.; Barzycka, B.; Luks, B. Melting Characteristics of Snow Cover on Tidewater Glaciers in Hornsund Fjord, Svalbard. Water 2017, 9, 804.

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