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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-294
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-294
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 16 Jan 2019

Research article | 16 Jan 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Thermal conductivity of firn at Lomonosovfonna, Svalbard, derived from subsurface temperature measurements

Sergey Marchenko1, Gong Cheng2, Per Lötstedt2, Veijo Pohjola1, Rickard Pettersson1, Ward van Pelt1, and Carleen Reijmer3 Sergey Marchenko et al.
  • 1Uppsala University, Department of Earth Sciences
  • 2Uppsala University, Department of Information Technology
  • 3Utrecht University, Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research

Abstract. Accurate description of snow and firn processes is necessary for estimating the fraction of glacier surface melt that contributes to runoff. Most processes in snow and firn are to a great extent controlled by the temperature therein and in the absence of liquid water, the temperature evolution is dominated by the conductive heat exchange. The latter is controlled by the effective thermal conductivity k. Here we reconstruct the effective thermal conductivity of firn at Lomonosovfonna, Svalbard, using an optimization routine minimizing the misfit between simulated and measured subsurface temperatures and densities. The optimized k* values lie in the range from 0.2 to 1.6 J (s m K)−1 increase downwards and over time. The results are supported by uncertainty quantification experiments, according to which k* is most sensitive to systematic errors in empirical temperature values and their estimated depths, particularly in the lower part of the vertical profile. Compared to commonly used density-based parameterizations our k values are consistently larger, suggesting a faster conductive heat exchange in firn.

Sergey Marchenko et al.
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Short summary
Thermal conductivity (k) of firn at Lomonosovfonna, Svalbard, is estimated using measured temperature evolution and density. The optimized k values (0.2–1.6 W/(m K)) increase downwards and over time and are most sensitive to systematic errors in measured temperature values and their depths, particularly in the lower part of the profile. Compared to density-based parameterizations our k values are consistently larger, suggesting a faster conductive heat exchange in firn.
Thermal conductivity (k) of firn at Lomonosovfonna, Svalbard, is estimated using measured...
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