Workshop on observing and modelling meltwater retention processes in snow and firn on ice sheets and glaciers

Workshop on observing and modelling meltwater retention processes in snow and firn on ice sheets and glaciers

Hosted by the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS)

1-3 June 2016, Øster Voldgade 10, DK-1350 Copenhagen

Sponsorship: Danish Council for Independent Research (DFF)

and International Arctic Scientific Committee (IASC) co-sponsored


Practical items:

  • What will the workshop include:
    • Icebreaker on Wednesday
    • Morning and afternoon coffee breaks.
    • Lunch Thursday and Friday.
    • Workshop dinner on Thursday (Please let me know, if you plan NOT to attend)
  • Poster session: Thursday afternoon. Please use the prepared poster holders in the hallway
  • Discussion sessions: discuss observations and model development of meltwater retention processes in snow and firn.
  • Please be on time for each session as the main entrance to GEUS will be locked most of the time during the workshop.


Need help?:

  • Robert work phone: Call +4591333838
  • Robert private phone: Call or text +4525132694


We plan a special issue on the workshop topic in Frontiers in Earth Sciences – Cryospheric sciences [link].




Oral presentations

Wednesday 1 June Title
12.00-13.00 Registration
Convener: Jason Box
13.00-13.10 Introduction
13.10-13.40 W. Tad Pfeffer The little problem that won’t go away: 50+ years of research on Greenland meltwater infiltration
13.40-14.10 Roger Braithwaite Measurement and modelling of meltwater retention on ice sheets and glaciers
14.10-14.30 Carl E. Bøggild Melt water in cold polar snow: a system of observational, understanding and modeling challenges
14.30-14.40 Dirk van As Expert Survey
Convener: Dirk van As
15.00-15.20 Richard Forster Greenland firn aquifer investigations from remote sensing, geophysics, in situ measurements, and modeling
15.20-15.40 Mike MacFerrin Compaction and firn cores from the Greenland ice sheet 2012-2016
15.40-16.00 Paul Vallelonga Observations regarding the 2012 melt event in the Greenland accumulation zone
16.00-16.20 Peter Kuipers Munneke Modelling elevation change of the Greenland Ice Sheet firn layer, 1960-2014
16.20-16.40 Discussion points for the next days Discussant: Jason Box
16.40-18.30 Ice Breaker Sponsored by International Arctic Science Committee (IASC)

2 June

Convener: Babis Charalampidis
09.10-09.30 Jens Hesselbjerg Christensen Sea ice – what does this has to do with the Greenland Ice Sheet SMB?
09.30-09.50 Konrad Steffen Greenland Swiss Camp Climatology: 1990 – 2016
09.50-10.10 Horst Machguth Successive and intense melt rapidly decreases Greenland meltwater retention in firn
10.10-10.30 Stef Lhermitte Clouds enhance Greenland ice sheet meltwater runoff
11.00-12.20 Discussion Discussant: Koni Steffen
Lunch Sponsored by International Arctic Science Committee (IASC)
Convener: Baptiste Vandecrux
13.30-13.50 Stefan Ligtenberg Modelling 3-D liquid water flow in the Greenland firn aquifer
13.50-14.10 Sebastian Mernild Surface mass balance and runoff modeling for Greenland Ice Sheet based on SnowModel
14.10-14.30 Peter Langen Introducing percolation physics in the regional climate model HIRHAM5
14.30-14.50 Nander Wever Recent advances in liquid water flow modelling in the physics based SNOWPACK model
15.20-16.30 Discussion Discussant: Michiel van den Broeke
16.30-18.30 Poster Session
19.00-23.00 Workshop dinner Café G [link] (Co-sponsored by IASC)

3 June

Convener: Xavier Fettweis
09.10-09.30 Jan Leanerts Firn air depletion and high melt in grounding zone of an East Antarctic ice shelf
09.30-09.50 Samantha Buzzard The accumulation of surface meltwater on ice shelves
09.50-10.10 Christian Steger Refreezing and liquid water storage on the Greenland ice sheet: a model comparison
10.10-10.30 Kristin Poinar Model-based constraints on the depths and thermal influence of water-filled crevasses in western Greenland
Convener: Ruth Mottram
11.00-11.20 Sergey Marchenko Measuring and simulating snow/firn temperature evolution at Lomonosovfonna affected by preferential water flow
11.20-11.40 Samira Samimi Meltwater Runoff and Storage Based on Dielectric Properties of the Supraglacial Snowpack on Haig Glacier, Canadian Rocky Mountains
11.40-12.00 Achim Heilig Continuous determination of liquid water retention in seasonal snowpacks and application to perennial firn.
12.00-12.20 Björn Saß Improvement of geodetic glacier mass balances with integrated firn elevation change modeling
Lunch Sponsored by International Arctic Science Committee (IASC)
13.30-15.00 Discussion Discussant: W. Tad Pfeffer


Poster presentations

  Posters: Title
1 Patrick Alexander The impact of meltwater on modeled Greenland Ice Sheet density profiles
2 Willem Jan van de Berg On the densification of snow
3 Matthew Cooper What can supraglacial rivers on the Greenland Ice Sheet teach us about seasonal meltwater retention in snow and firn?
4 Alexandra Gossart The importance of wind on East Antarctic ice shelf stability
5 Juliana Costi Surface meltwater production, retention and runoff trends on the Antarctic Peninsula (WITHDRAWN)
6 Xavier Fettweis Sensibility of the Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance simulated by the regional model MAR to the irreducible water saturation in snow and the pore hole close off density
7 Joel Harper Challenges and Limitations of Using In Situ Observations to Assess Modeled Infiltration and Refreezing in Firn
8 Stan Jakobs Effects of snow layer initialisation and soot concentration on meltwater retention
9 Leo Kampenhout Firn modelling in the Community Earth System Model (CESM)
10 Horst Machguth Greenland surface mass balance observations from the ice sheet ablation area and local glaciers
11 Ruth Mottram The importance of retention and refreezing to the surface mass balance of small Arctic glaciers
12 Brice Noël A downscaled 1km dataset of daily Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance components (1958-2015)
13 Ward van Pelt The changing role of snow conditions and refreezing on mass loss of Svalbard glaciers
14 Baptiste Vandecrux Understanding non-linear change in the permeability of firn on Greenland ice sheet
15 Melchior van Wessem The simulated Surface Mass Balance of the Antarctic Peninsula


Workshop on Meltwater in Snow and Firn

Workshop: Modeling Meltwater in Snow and Firn: Processes, Validation, Intercomparison and Model uses of Optical Remotely Sensed Data
20-22 September 2017, Copenhagen.
  • The workshop starts Wednesday Sep 20 at 12.00, and ends Friday Sep 22 at 12.00.
  • A PROMICE 10-year jubilee and reception is planned for the afternoon of Sep 22.


  • to present and discuss results on modeling of meltwater retention processes in snow and firn on ice sheets and glaciers;
  • to plan and coordinate meltwater retention model development;
  • to emphasize optical remote sensing snow parameter data comparison and data assimilation;
  • to formulate a protocol for a meltwater retention model intercomparison project (RetMIP)

This is workshop two as part of Danish Council for Independent Research (DFF) Natural Sciences program (FNU) project 4002-00234: Understanding and predicting non-linear change in the permeability of Greenland firn and has a special session co-sponsored by the ESA Scientific Exploitation of Operational Missions (SEOM) Sentinel-3 for Science, Land Study 1: SNOW.



  1. Snow model development
  2. Meltwater retention model validation
  3. Meltwater retention model intercomparison project (RetMIP)
  4. Optical remote sensing to improve snow models

Session 1 welcomes, for example, model considerations of water availability vs. percolation rate vs. refreezing rate to explore the importance of heterogeneous percolation modelling in polar firn; fine-and-local scale/detailed modeling with possible suggestions to including bulk effects in larger-scale models; inclusion of piping (for instance, by “skipping layers” during percolation) in distributed or single-column models; inclusion of horizontal water motion in snow and firn, i.e. between grid cells.

Session 2 will focus on discussions of useful model validation metrics and aim to compile observational datasets that may be used to validate the above processes.

Session 3 will discuss and formulate a protocol for a meltwater retention model intercomparison project.
Session 4 serves an ESA Sentinel-3 for Science Land Study: Snow “S-3-Snow” that includes an element to gather and prioritize snow modeller interest and requirements about optical remotely sensed snow parameters (snow extent, albedo, grain size, impurity content, etc.). The ESA study is to engage users of Sentinel-3 snow optical retrievals in 1.) model comparison and/or 2.) data assimilation. Theworkshop session is to:
  • survey and prioritize remotely sensed snow parameter data users’ requirements for global and regional snow information
  • discuss how to enhance methods for estimating snow parameters, either from remote sensing or from modeling, and to evaluate advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches
  • consult users about the utility/interest in other snow products suitable for studying climate-related issues.
Workshop expected outcomes


Financial Support
We have some financial support, but may ask a modest registration fee. We plan for the workshop to include lunch, morning and afternoon coffee breaks.
Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), Østervoldgade 10, DK-1350 Copenhagen K
Contributions are welcomed in the form of oral presentations and/or posters. Presentation duration will be 15-20 minutes, including discussion. One or more longer invited keynote presentations are planned.
Abstracts and registration
Those intending to attend the workshop should submit abstracts (maximum length 200 words) by email to Peter Langen ( no later than the registration deadline Friday 18 August 2017.  Abstracts should indicate whether an oral or poster presentation is preferred.
Financial support
We are working to raise some financial support for early career scientists to participate in the workshop. Please indicate at registration whether you will request support.
A range of hotels and hostels exist near the workshop location. Public transit is very efficient, including bike rental. Booking these early is recommended due to high demand that may occur.
Hope to see you in Copenhagen, Peter Langen (DMI) and Jason Box (GEUS)