Spatial and Temporal Variations in a Perennial Firn Aquifer on Lomonosovfonna, Svalbard

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för geovetenskaper; Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för geovetenskaper

Abstract: A firn aquifer is a type of englacial water storage that forms when surface meltwater fills up the pore space in porous firn. If the retention time exceeds one year the feature is regarded as perennial. The melt and accumulation rates as well as the available pore space determine the formation and extent of the firn aquifer. Flow of water within the aquifer caused by gradients in hydraulic potential leads to redistribution of water and consequently to a change in the level of the water table. This thesis focuses on a perennial firn aquifer on the Lomonosovfonna ice field on Svalbard. Spatial and temporal variations in the depth to the water table as well as variations in reflectivity strength of the water table are analysed using data from ground penetrating radar surveys along with MATLAB and ArcGIS software tools. The results show a clear connection between surface topography, steepness of its slopes and depth to the water table. It is also proved that the depth varies between different years. During the four years of study, the water table in the area rose closer to the surface. The results also show that the reflections from the top of the water table are stronger and more frequently detected in areas with gentler water table slopes. A similar correlation is true for the surface topography slope, where a gentler slope shows a stronger reflectivity. The results support the previous research done on Holtedahlfonna’s aquifer on Svalbard as well as aquifers on Greenland.

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