Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Annals of Glaciology


Department of Earth Sciences


Surface melt on a glacier can perturb the glaciochemical record beyond the natural variability. While the centre of the Greenland ice sheet is usually devoid of surface melt, many high- Arctic and alpine ice cores document frequent summertime melt events. Current hypotheses interpreting melt-affected ice-core chemistry rely on preferential elution of certain major ions. However, the precise nature of chemistry alteration is unknown because it is difficult to distinguish natural variability from melt effects in a perennially melt-affected site. We use eight trace-element snow chemistry records recovered from Summit, Greenland, to study spatial variability and melt effects on insoluble trace chemistry and physical stratigraphy due to artificially introduced meltwater. Differences between non-melt and melt-affected chemistry were significantly greater than the spatial variability in chemistry represented by nearest-neighbour pairs. Melt-perturbed trace elements, particularly rare earth elements, retained their seasonal stratigraphies, suggesting that trace elements may serve as robust chemical indicators for annual layers even in melt-affected study areas. Results suggest trace-element transport via meltwater percolation will deposit eluted material down-pit in refrozen areas below the nearest-surface chemistry peak. In our experiments, snow chemistry analyses are more sensitive to melt perturbations than density changes or unprocessed near-infrared digital imagery.