At Summit Station we used snowpit stratigraphy (SS) in the backlit snowpit to investigate the characteristics of the past ~2 years of snow accumulation.
What is snowpit stratigraphy?
SS is the study of the layers (thickness, snow crystal structure, density, and porosity) and the depositional characteristics of snow. The lighter vs. darker layers is the easiest difference to observe in the SS; this difference is also the most important because it allows for the identification of yearly snowfall. Summer layers appear lighter and larger, due to larger snow crystals and more snow falling in summer (weird!), and winter layers look darker and thinner, due to smaller crystals, less falling snow, and higher winds in winter (see image below).
Why is snowpit stratigraphy important?
SS was the first method identifying annual layers of snow accumulation on ice sheets. Additionally, it showed that these features are preserved as time passes. This discovery led to modern ice core science.
To read more check out these papers: