Term: Penitent ice Class:  
 vernacular   (0%)
Created 6 June 2017
Last modified 6 June 2017
Contributed by GCW Glossary


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.  AMSglossary 

A field of columnar shapes of compacted snow or glacier ice formed by sublimation and/or melting. syn. penitent snow  WMOMeteoterm