Alternative definitions (13), class: vernacular (0)
Term: Firn
Definition: Firn is old snow that has been recrystalized into a more dense substance. Firn has a density greater than 0.55. Snowflakes are compressed under the weight of the overlying snowpack. Individual crystal near the melting point have slick liquid edges allowing them to glide along other crystal planes and to readjust the space between them. Where the crystals touch they bond together, squeezing the air between them to the surface or into bubbles. During summer we might see the crystal metamorphosis occur more rapidly because of water percolation between the crystals. By summer's end the result is firn -- a compacted snow with the appearance of wet sugar, but with a hardness that makes it resistant to all but the most dedicated snow shovelers! Several years are usually required for the snow to settle and to season into the substance we call glacier ice.
Created 2022.03.08
Last Modified 2023.03.27
Contributed by GCW Glossary