Penitent ice

Alternative definitions (2), class: vernacular (0)
Term: Penitent ice
Definition: A spike or pillar of compacted snow, firn, or glacier ice caused by differential melting and evaporation. Necessary for this formation are 1) air temperature near freezing; 2) dewpoint much below freezing; and 3) strong insolation. Consequently, penitent ice is most developed on low-latitude mountains, especially the Chilean Andes, but has been found in polar regions. Penitents are oriented individually toward the noonday sun, and usually occur in east-west lines. The term is derived from the Spanish nieve penitente (penitent snow), which is still widely used throughout the literature.
Created 2022.03.08
Last Modified 2023.03.27
Contributed by GCW Glossary