Heat exchanges in the heterothermic zone of a karst system: Monlesi cave, Swiss Jura Mountains


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January 2008


[1] Subsurface ice accumulations in temperate karst environments are assumed to be highly sensitive to external climate forcing and therefore represent a favorable setting for studying processes controlling heat exchanges in the heterothermic zone of a karst system. Air, rock, water, and ice temperatures were measured and complemented by airflow, water discharge, and cave air humidity data during a case study carried out between 2001 and 2006 at Monlesi ice cave in the Swiss Jura Mountains. The energy balance of the system could be quantified for an annual cycle, and results demonstrate that forced convection, which is controlled by the temperature difference between the cave air and the external atmosphere, is a driving force for the heat exchange between the cave and the surrounding environment. Therefore compared to the external mean annual conditions, major thermal anomalies are to be expected in the entrance zone of a cave system. Since this heterothermic zone may extend over several hundreds of meters, a better understanding of the mechanisms controlling the subsurface deposition environment represents a major prerequisite for high‐resolution paleoenvironmental reconstructions from cave deposits.


Karst, Heat Transfer, Ice

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JGR: Earth Surface, Vol. 113, no. F2 (2008).