Another year and another great opportunity to teach on the spring graduate glaciology course at the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS)!
I taught the AG-325 (MSc) students for a week on the topic of glacier mass and surface energy balance. Great students as ever, and a new field trip. Usually we go to Scott Turnerbreen in Bolterdalen, where we dig snowpits and look inside a glacier cave, but this year we did the same things, plus some snow scooter radar measurements, on Tellbreen instead, which involves a slightly longer drive. The student groups dig snow pits, plot up the stratigraphy, calculate the mass and snow water equivalent height of the snowpack on top of the ablation zone and also the cold content of this snowpack.
We used a free tool called snow pilot (www.snowpilot.org) to plot up our snowpit data, which produces nice figures and has the added bonus of offering the chance to submit your snowpit to the growing online database which will be made available to researchers upon request. I guess this is currently aimed at US research programs but its still a cool idea. Below is an example of the snowpit profile from Scott Turnerbreen in February 2012 generated using this software: