ESS 595, Autumn 2008
READINGS on Polar Firn: Thermal, Mechanical, and Chemical Properties

Instructor: Ed Waddington
Email: edw at

Office: ATG 715
Office Hours: by arrangement
Telephone: 206 543 4585

Student Leader
Jessica Lundin   jdrees at

Meeting Times and Locations

Monday 11:00-12:30, ATG 406

We will meet once each week for about 1.5 hours. Each week, all participants will read some selected articles, and two participants will be responsible for leading discussion of the chosen materials.


Polar firn accumulates due to snowfall, and densifies due to the weight of overlying snow. At low densities at shallow depths, some paleoclimate tracers are mobile  and can mix wtih the free atmosphere above.When firn reaches a density of around 820 kg m^3, air can no longer move through firn, and geochemical tracers are locked in.   Through weekly readings and student-led discussion, we will explore current ideas about firn compaction, about and about ways that proxies of paleoclimate interest can be altered in the firn.

Recommended preparation

Interest in polar ice sheets, and climate records from them