Spatial heterogeneity of snow and firn properties on glaciers introduces uncertainty in interpretation of point and profile observations and complicates modelling of meltwater percolation and runoff. Here we present a study of the temporal and spatial dynamics of firn density and stratigraphy at the plot-scale (≈10 m × 10 m × 10 m) repeated annually during 2012-14 at the Lomonosovfonna icefield, Svalbard. Results from cores, video inspections in boreholes and radar grid surveys are compared. Ice layers 0.1-50 cm thick comprised ≈8% of the borehole length. Most of them are 1-3 cm thick and could not be traced between boreholes separated by 3 m. Large lateral variability of firn structure affects representativeness of observations in single holes and calls for repeated studies in multiple points to derive a representative stratigraphy signal. Radar reflections are poorly correlated with ice layers in individual boreholes. However, the match between the high amplitude peaks in the grid-averaged radar signal and horizons of preferential ice layer formation revealed by averaging the video surveys over multiple boreholes is higher. These horizons are interpreted as buried firn layers previously exposed to melt-freeze or wind-driven densification and several of them are consistently recovered throughout three field campaigns.
- borehole video
- firn core