Dynamic perennial firn aquifer on an Arctic glacier

Knut Christianson, Jack Kohler, Richard B. Alley, Christopher Nuth, Ward J.J. Van Pelt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Ice-penetrating radar and GPS observations reveal a perennial firn aquifer (PFA) on a Svalbard ice field, similar to those recently discovered in southeastern Greenland. A bright, widespread radar reflector separates relatively dry and water-saturated firn. This surface, the phreatic firn water table, is deeper beneath local surface elevation maxima, shallower in surface lows, and steeper where the surface is steep. The reflector crosscuts snow stratigraphy; we use the apparent deflection of accumulation layers due to the higher dielectric permittivity below the water table to infer that the firn pore space becomes progressively more saturated as depth increases. Our observations indicate that PFAs respond rapidly (subannually) to surface forcing, and are capable of providing significant input to the englacial hydrology system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1418-1426
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume42
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 16 2015

Fingerprint

glaciers
firn
aquifers
glacier
aquifer
water tables
radar reflectors
water table
ice
radar
ice field
hydrology
radar tracking
permittivity
Greenland
stratigraphy
snow
pore space
deflection
reflectors

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Cite this

Christianson, K., Kohler, J., Alley, R. B., Nuth, C., & Van Pelt, W. J. J. (2015). Dynamic perennial firn aquifer on an Arctic glacier. Geophysical Research Letters, 42(5), 1418-1426. https://doi.org/10.1002/2014GL062806
Christianson, Knut ; Kohler, Jack ; Alley, Richard B. ; Nuth, Christopher ; Van Pelt, Ward J.J. / Dynamic perennial firn aquifer on an Arctic glacier. In: Geophysical Research Letters. 2015 ; Vol. 42, No. 5. pp. 1418-1426.
@article{e624f283c6a04b5dbb2f42fd179ef718,
title = "Dynamic perennial firn aquifer on an Arctic glacier",
abstract = "Ice-penetrating radar and GPS observations reveal a perennial firn aquifer (PFA) on a Svalbard ice field, similar to those recently discovered in southeastern Greenland. A bright, widespread radar reflector separates relatively dry and water-saturated firn. This surface, the phreatic firn water table, is deeper beneath local surface elevation maxima, shallower in surface lows, and steeper where the surface is steep. The reflector crosscuts snow stratigraphy; we use the apparent deflection of accumulation layers due to the higher dielectric permittivity below the water table to infer that the firn pore space becomes progressively more saturated as depth increases. Our observations indicate that PFAs respond rapidly (subannually) to surface forcing, and are capable of providing significant input to the englacial hydrology system.",
author = "Knut Christianson and Jack Kohler and Alley, {Richard B.} and Christopher Nuth and {Van Pelt}, {Ward J.J.}",
year = "2015",
month = "3",
day = "16",
doi = "10.1002/2014GL062806",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "42",
pages = "1418--1426",
journal = "Geophysical Research Letters",
issn = "0094-8276",
publisher = "American Geophysical Union",
number = "5",

}

Christianson, K, Kohler, J, Alley, RB, Nuth, C & Van Pelt, WJJ 2015, 'Dynamic perennial firn aquifer on an Arctic glacier', Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 42, no. 5, pp. 1418-1426. https://doi.org/10.1002/2014GL062806

Dynamic perennial firn aquifer on an Arctic glacier. / Christianson, Knut; Kohler, Jack; Alley, Richard B.; Nuth, Christopher; Van Pelt, Ward J.J.

In: Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 42, No. 5, 16.03.2015, p. 1418-1426.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Dynamic perennial firn aquifer on an Arctic glacier

AU - Christianson, Knut

AU - Kohler, Jack

AU - Alley, Richard B.

AU - Nuth, Christopher

AU - Van Pelt, Ward J.J.

PY - 2015/3/16

Y1 - 2015/3/16

N2 - Ice-penetrating radar and GPS observations reveal a perennial firn aquifer (PFA) on a Svalbard ice field, similar to those recently discovered in southeastern Greenland. A bright, widespread radar reflector separates relatively dry and water-saturated firn. This surface, the phreatic firn water table, is deeper beneath local surface elevation maxima, shallower in surface lows, and steeper where the surface is steep. The reflector crosscuts snow stratigraphy; we use the apparent deflection of accumulation layers due to the higher dielectric permittivity below the water table to infer that the firn pore space becomes progressively more saturated as depth increases. Our observations indicate that PFAs respond rapidly (subannually) to surface forcing, and are capable of providing significant input to the englacial hydrology system.

AB - Ice-penetrating radar and GPS observations reveal a perennial firn aquifer (PFA) on a Svalbard ice field, similar to those recently discovered in southeastern Greenland. A bright, widespread radar reflector separates relatively dry and water-saturated firn. This surface, the phreatic firn water table, is deeper beneath local surface elevation maxima, shallower in surface lows, and steeper where the surface is steep. The reflector crosscuts snow stratigraphy; we use the apparent deflection of accumulation layers due to the higher dielectric permittivity below the water table to infer that the firn pore space becomes progressively more saturated as depth increases. Our observations indicate that PFAs respond rapidly (subannually) to surface forcing, and are capable of providing significant input to the englacial hydrology system.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84925850240&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84925850240&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1002/2014GL062806

DO - 10.1002/2014GL062806

M3 - Article

VL - 42

SP - 1418

EP - 1426

JO - Geophysical Research Letters

JF - Geophysical Research Letters

SN - 0094-8276

IS - 5

ER -