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SPRI Review 2000: SPRI Review 2000

SPRI Review 2000

Glacier Hydrology Group

Dr N. Arnold
Dr G. de Q. Robin, Dr I. Willis (Department of Geography)
D. Rippin, A. Fox

The Glacier Hydrology Group has continued to focus its activities in high Arctic environments, and further afield in space and time. Dr Neil Arnold undertook a second field trip to Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, in the spring, working on a NERC grant to evaluate spatial and temporal variability in glacier surface characteristics, especially snow depth, albedo, and surface roughness. These are all important controls on glacier mass balance, and the project aims to investigate small-scale variability in these parameters, in order more effectively to model the spatial variability of surface properties in distributed mass-balance models, such as the one that has already been developed by the group. The focus of this trip was to evaluate late winter snow cover, as this is an important control on melt rates in the following summer, and to evaluate the use of remotely sensed images to allow faster and spatially wider data acquisition. Dr Gareth Rees of the Remote Sensing Group accompanied Dr Arnold for the second part of this trip. During the time Dr Rees was present, several SAR images were acquired, with contemporaneous ground-truthing of surface characteristics. Two 'home-made' radar reflectors were constructed from waste materials available in Ny-Ålesund, to facilitate locating ground survey points on the imagery.

Mr D. Rippin's fieldwork is now completed, and he has begun to write up his PhD thesis, on the role of glacier thermal regime on glacier movement.

The work undertaken by Dr Arnold for the Stage Three Project, an international, interdisciplinary group based in the Department of Earth Sciences, Cambridge, has now reached fruition. The project aimed to reconstruct the climate of Europe during Oxygen Isotope Stage 3, a warmer period during the last Glacial Period, around 40,000 years ago. Dr Arnold's input was a modelling-based study of the possible extent of the Scandinavian Ice Sheet at this time, for use as a boundary condition in a Global Climate Model. The intensive climate-modelling phase, by Dr Eric Barron and his research group at Pennsylvania State University, has been completed, and seems to indicate that Stage 3 could have had a much warmer climate than previously believed. The ice sheet modelling results have now been written up, and submitted to the Journal of Quaternary Research. Dr Arnold is continuing to work with Dr David Pollard of Penn State to develop the ice-sheet model from two- to three-dimensional.

Mr Andy Fox, a NERC-funded PhD student, completed a six-week field season in the Swiss Alps during the summer, as part of the first phase of a project to develop a distributed model of glacier surface hydrology that can be used in conjunction with the group's existing energy balance model to calculate the delivery of surface melt during the course of a melt-season to the en- and sub-glacial hydrological system. This trip, with Dr Willis, was very successful, and data analysis is now well underway. In the coming summer, Fox will undertake a field trip to Ny-Ålesund, to work on Midre Lovenbreen, to expand this work to include sub-polar glaciers, as well as temperate glaciers.