Winter surface mass balance monitoring at the Kanderfirn glacier
Last week three members of the AG “Glacier System & Natural Hazards” went on a field trip on the Kanderfirn glacier (Swiss Alps) to
conduct surface mass balance measurements for the past winter season.
The field trip was led by Dr. Alexander Groos, who is monitoring the glacier mass balance and retreat since 2017. The team reached the accumulation zone of the glacier and dug a snow pit down to the ice surface to perform snow depth, density and temperature measurements. Observations suggest that the last winter season produced ~3 m of snow at that location, which likely fell down during the last two months as snow water equivalent in Alpine glaciers was well below average until March, as reported by other monitoring studies in Swiss Alps. Interestingly, a layer of Sahara dust (orange layer) was well visible at a snow depth of 1 m. First investigations suggest that this could have been due to a dust storm reaching the Alps in March.
Such a considerable amount of snow is good for the health of the glacier. However, how would the melt season be?
Photo credits: Dr. Ilaria Tabone and Jorge Berkhoff.