4th International Workshop on Ice Caves by C. Spötl, M. Luetscher, P. Rittig

By C. Spötl, M. Luetscher, P. Rittig

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The former is reflected by the thinning and eventual absence of ground ice in N-S direction within a distance of only 30 m. The thickest ground ice (up to 4 m according to steam drilling, locally possibly up to 7 m thick) is present beneath the vertical shaft suggesting a genetic link between the two. The lowest seasonal air temperatures are also recorded at the base of this shaft (-12°C in winter). During summer the air temperature in the ice-bearing parts remains at the melting point, whereas the temperature at the southern end of this chamber rises asymptotically to +1°C until the end of autumn.

Ice has been observed down to a depth of at least 7 m, where an unexplored shaft drains both ice-melt water and dripping related to rainfalls and seasonal snow melting. And some years ago another unreported ice body was found by English divers at the base of a boulder choke at the end of the main line of the Plura passage, beyond the tunnel that descends to the West towards the deeper underwater part of the cave. From the cave survey this point is about 70 m North-East from the centre of the Steinugleflåget depression.

To increase the information on spatial variability of ice accumulation/ablation in the cave ablation stakes were drilled at 6 locations with unregular readings throughout the project period. Although the environmental and logistic conditions (the cave is inaccessible during winter) resulted in data gaps, the data series are valuable to study patterns of cave meteorology inside and outside the cave as well as related effects on ice accumulation/ablation. As Eisriesenwelt is used for touristic purposes, the circulation of cave air masses is artificially influenced during periods of cave-entrance closing in summer.

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