Brief communication: Growth and decay of an ice stupa in alpine conditions – a simple model driven by energy-flux observations over a glacier surface

Oerlemans, Johannes; Balasubramanian, Suryanarayanan; Clavuot, Conradin; Keller, Felix

We present a simple model to calculate the evolution of an ice stupa (artificial ice reservoir). The model is formulated for a cone geometry and driven by energy balance measurements over a glacier surface for a 5-year period. An “exposure factor” is introduced to deal with the fact that an ice stupa has a very rough surface and is more exposed to wind than a flat glacier surface. The exposure factor enhances the turbulent fluxes.

For characteristic alpine conditions at 2100 m, an ice stupa may reach a volume of 200 to 400 minline-formula3 in early April. We show sensitivities of ice stupa size to temperature changes and exposure factor. The model may also serve as an educational tool, with which the effects of snow cover, switching off water during daytime, different starting dates, switching off water during high wind speeds, etc. can easily be evaluated.

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Oerlemans, Johannes / Balasubramanian, Suryanarayanan / Clavuot, Conradin / et al: Brief communication: Growth and decay of an ice stupa in alpine conditions – a simple model driven by energy-flux observations over a glacier surface. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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