Dynamics of crystal formation in the Greenland NorthGRIP ice core

Joachim Mathiesen, Jesper Ferkinghoff-Borg, Mogens Høgh Jensen, Mogens Levinsen, Poul Olesen, Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, Anders Svensson

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The North Greenland Ice Core Project (NorthGRIP) provides paleoclimatic information back to at about 120 kyr before present (Dahl-Jensen and others, 2002). Each year, precipitation on the ice sheet covers it with a new layer of snow, which gradually transforms into ice crystals as the layer sinks into the ice sheet. The size distribution of ice crystals has been measured at selected depths in the upper 880 m of the NorthGRIP ice core (Svensson and others, 2003b), which covers a time span of 5300 years. The distributions change with time toward a universal curve, indicating a common underlying physical process in the formation of crystals. We identify this process as an interplay between fragmentation of the crystals and diffusion of their grain boundaries. The process is described by a two-parameter differential equation to which we obtain the exact solution. The solution is in excellent agreement with the experimentally observed distributions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Glaciology
Pages (from-to)325
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


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