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


Definition: A spike-like irregularity of the glacier surface, significantly taller than wide and on occasion reaching heights as great as a few metres. Penitentes are an extreme form of the metre-scale roughness which must be accounted for in all ablation measurements using stakes. They are usually found together in large numbers when low temperature and intense solar radiation favour ablation by sublimation and the consequent amplification of small surface irregularities. The word is Spanish and is generally not Anglicized; the final e is retained (and pronounced).  IHPGlacierMassBalance