Snow accumulation distribution on Spitsbergen, Svalbard, in 1997

  • J-G. Winther
  • O. Bruland
  • K. Sand
  • Å. Killingtveit
  • D. Marechal


A survey of the regional snow accumulation variability on Spitsbergen, Svalbard, was carried out during three field campaigns in May 1997. The survey was carried out along three transects from west-to-east approcimately at the following latitudes: 77°30?, 78° and 78°50’degrees north. The altitudes span from sea level to 1000 metres elevation. Snow depth was measured with two different ground-penetrating radar systems, PulsEKKO (450 MHz) and GSSI SIR System-2 (500 MHz), pulled behind snow machines. Snow characteristics such as snow temperature, snow density and stratigraphy were measured in snow pits in nine areas, three along each transect. Our data suggest the following: (1)the accumulation-elevation gradients vary from 3 mm/100 m in the northeast to 237 mm/100 min the central-south with an average value of 104 mm/100m for all measurements: (2)snow accumulation was 38 to 49% higher at the eastern coast than at the western coast; (3) a clear minimum in accumulation (or continental climate) is seen for the central (inland) locations in the middle and northern transects while no such minimum exists along the southern transect; (4) a south-to-north gradient produces 55% and 40% less snow accumulation at the northern locations compared to the southern locations at the western and eastern coasts, respectively. These drops in winter snow accumulation occur over a distance of less than 200 km.


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How to Cite
Winther, J.-G., Bruland, O., Sand, K., Killingtveit, Å., & Marechal, D. (1998). Snow accumulation distribution on Spitsbergen, Svalbard, in 1997. Polar Research, 17(2), 155-164.
Research/review articles