The formation of superimposed ice in the accumulation area of sub-polar glaciers plays an important role in the heat and mass balance of the glaciers. In order to study the process of superimposed ice formation in detail, field observations were conducted on McCall Glacier, a sub-polar glacier in Arctic Alaska. It was found that the approximate thickness of superimposed ice formed in a whole summer was 20 cm in the upper region and 30—40 cm in the lower region of the accumulation area of the glacier. This difference in thickness may be attributed to the difference in the temperature of the underlying ice and the rate of supply of melt water. The ratio of the amount of superimposed ice formed in the accumulation area from May to July in 1972 to the total amount of melt was determined. Approximately 50% of the total melt water was discharged from the glacier as run-off water, and the remainder contributed to the formation of superimposed ice.
An experimental study on the artificial formation of superimposed ice was conducted in the cold laboratory to obtain the ratio of superimposed ice, that of run-off water, and that of free water suspended between snow grains, to the total amount of melt water produced in the snow. The ratios obtained in the laboratory experiment agree fairly well with those derived from the observational data on McCall Glacier.
Numerical calculations were conducted to examine the relationship between the growth rate of superimposed ice, the rale of snow melting, the rate of discharge of excess melt-water, and the temperature of the underlying ice. Calculations were made in reference to both the laboratory experiment and the field observations on McCall Glacier. It was found that the predominant factors controlling the growth rate or the total amount of superimposed ice in a sub-polar glacier are the rate of supply of melt water to the snow-ice interface and the initial temperature distribution in the underlying ice. By using the present calculation, it may be possible to estimate the growth rate, the total amount of superimposed ice, and the ratio of superimposed ice to the total amount of melting in the accumulation area of any sub-polar glacier, if observational data on the initial temperature distribution in ice and the rate of snow melting at the snow surface are available.