Articles | Volume 10, issue 5
The Cryosphere, 10, 2069–2074, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-10-2069-2016

Special issue: Intercomparison of methods to characterise snow...

The Cryosphere, 10, 2069–2074, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-10-2069-2016

Research article 14 Sep 2016

Research article | 14 Sep 2016

Brief communication: Improved measurement of ice layer density in seasonal snowpacks

Tom Watts1, Nick Rutter1, Peter Toose2, Chris Derksen2, Melody Sandells3,a, and John Woodward1 Tom Watts et al.
  • 1Department of Geography, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8ST, UK
  • 2Climate Research Division, Environment Canada, Toronto, Canada
  • 3National Centre for Earth Observation, University of Reading, Reading, RG6 6AL, UK
  • anow at: CORES Science and Engineering Limited, Victoria Garesfield, UK

Abstract. The microstructure and density of ice layers in snowpacks is poorly quantified. Here we present a new field method for measuring the density of ice layers caused by melt or rain-on-snow events. The method was used on 87 ice layer samples taken from natural and artificial ice layers in the Canadian Arctic and mid-latitudes. Mean measured ice layer density was 909 ± 28 kg m−3 with a standard deviation of 23 kg m−3, significantly higher than values typically used in the literature.

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Short summary
Ice layers in snowpacks introduce uncertainty in satellite-derived estimates of snow water equivalent, have ecological impacts on plants and animals, and change the thermal and vapour transport properties of the snowpack. Here we present a new field method for measuring the density of ice layers. The method was used in the Arctic and mid-latitudes; the mean measured ice layer density was significantly higher than values typically used in the literature.