Abstract

A study of δ18O variations of snow samples taken on traverses across the Devon Island ice cap in June 1971, 1972, and 1973 has shown a difference between the accumulation conditions on the southeast and northwest sides of the ice cap. On the southeast side there is an increasing depletion of 18O in the snow with increasing elevation. This pattern is attributed to the effect of orographic uplift of air masses moving over the ice cap from the southeast, which promotes condensation and precipitation due to adiabatic cooling. On the northwest side of the ice cap there is no evidence of any further depletion of 18O in snow, neither with increasing distance from the possible moisture source in Baffin Bay to the southeast nor with increasing elevation if the air mass comes from the northwest. In this case condensation is due to isobaric cooling so that precipitation is generally from level cloud bases. The changes inferred for the isotopic composition of the water vapour as it rises up the southeast slope are found to be consistent with its depletion through precipitation under near-equilibrium conditions. It is calculated that approximately 30% of the moisture at sea level on the southeast side of the ice cap and 8% at the top of the ice cap are of local origin. Lower temporal and aerial variabilty of the δ values on the southeast side of the ice cap is attributed to dominance of the Baffin Bay low on that side effecting consistency of storm conditions there.The δ values of ice in the ablation zone on the Sverdrup Glacier show the combined effect of ice movement from the accumulation to the ablation zone and climatic change during the period of movement from cold to warm and back to cold conditions again.

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