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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-2019-234
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-234
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 24 Oct 2019

Submitted as: research article | 24 Oct 2019

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

Advection Impacts the Firn Structure of Greenland's Percolation Zone

Rosemary Leone1, Joel Harper1, Toby Meierbachtol1, and Neil Humphrey2 Rosemary Leone et al.
  • 1Department of Geosciences, University of Montana, Missoula MT 59812
  • 2Geology and Geophysics, University of Wyoming, Laramie WY 82071

Abstract. One dimensional simulations of firn evolution neglect horizontal transport during burial. Using a suite of model runs, we demonstrate the impacts of advection on the development of firn density, temperature, and the stratigraphy of melt features the 0Greenland ice sheet percolation zone. The simulations isolate processes in synthetic runs, and investigate four specific transects and an ice core site. The advection process tends to increase the pore close-off depth, reduce the heat content, and decrease the frequency of melt features with depth by emplacing firn sourced from higher locations under increasingly warm and melt-affected surface conditions. Horizontal ice flow interacts with topography, climate gradients, and meltwater infiltration to influence the evolution of the firn column structure; the interaction between these variables modulates the impact of advection on firn at locations around Greenland. Pore close-off and firn temperature are mainly impacted in the lowermost 20 km of the percolation zone, which may be relevant to migration of the lower percolation zone. Relatively high in the percolation zone, however, the stratigraphy of melt features can have an advection derived component that should not be conflated with changing climate.

Rosemary Leone et al.
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Short summary
The Greenland ice sheet has a wide elevation band called the percolation zone, where some fraction of the annual snowfall is lost to heavy summer melting. The remnant snow, called firn, builds up into a layer many 10 s of meters thick before it eventually transforms into ice. The firn is transported down-slope during burial due to flow of the underlying ice sheet, a process often overlooked. We use computer simulations to investigate the impact of ice flow on the structural evolution of the firn.
The Greenland ice sheet has a wide elevation band called the percolation zone, where some...
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