Talus cones produced by mass wasting, north shore of Isfjord, Svalbard, Norway

Set of geomorphic processes associated with snow patches.

- Nivation

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Young, granular type of snow which has been partially melted, refrozen and compacted, yet precedes the form of ice.

Névé in a valley of Haute-Savoie, France

This type of snow is associated with glacier formation through the process of nivation.


Amphitheatre-like valley formed by glacial erosion.

Two cirques with semi-permanent snowpatches near Abisko National Park, Sweden
Upper Thornton Lake Cirque in North Cascades National Park, U.S.
Formation of cirque and resulting tarn
Maritsa cirque in Rila Mountain, Bulgaria
The Lower Curtis Glacier in North Cascades National Park is a well-developed cirque glacier; if the glacier continues to retreat and melt away, a lake may form in the basin
Lake Seal, Mt. Field National Park, Tasmania – a cirque formed from a glacier is visible in the walls around Lake Seal
The Cirque du Bout du Monde
The Western Cwm with the Lhotse face of Mount Everest in the background
Tuckerman Ravine cirque, headwall and spring skiers, New Hampshire
Cirque de Gavarnie, French Pyrenees

The process of nivation follows, whereby a hollow in a slope may be enlarged by ice segregation weathering and glacial erosion.

Snow patch

Geomorphological pattern of snow and firn accumulation which lies on the surface for a longer time than other seasonal snow cover.

Norwegian train plowing through drifted snow

The main process that creates these accumulations is called nivation.

Paha (landform)

Paha (or greda) are elongated landforms composed either of only loess or till capped by loess.

A map showing the distribution of paha with the major rivers on the boundary of the Iowan Surface.

Some of this erosion could have been caused by snow melt nivation.

Castle Lake (California)

Glacial lake located in the Trinity Mountains, in Siskiyou County of northern California.

Castle Lake with Mount Shasta in background
Swimmer with Mount Shasta in distance
Castle Lake with the headwall at the right, and the terminal moraine at the left.
Formation of cirque and resulting tarn.
Red Columbine (Aquilegia formosa) taken at Castle Lake June 2004.
Western azalea (Rhododendron occidentale). Taken at Castle Lake June 2020.

The process of nivation followed (where a hollow in a slope was enlarged by freeze-thaw weathering and glacial erosion).

Level Mountain

Large volcanic complex in the Northern Interior of British Columbia, Canada.

Cross section of a general rift
Geologic map of Level Mountain showing the basal shield volcano and the overlying stratovolcano
Geologic map of Level Mountain showing eruptive products and eruptive centres
A U-shaped valley of Level Mountain with extensive elevated plateau in the foreground
A pair of bog birch trees at Cedar Bog, Ohio. Such trees are present at Level Mountain.
Topographic map of Level Mountain
A 3D model of Level Mountain
Satellite image of Level Mountain showing its gently sloping surface

Some of the steeper slopes of the Level Mountain Range are confined to nivation and solifluction.

The Snow Hole

Located in the Taconic Mountains, New York, USA along the ridge line between Bald Mountain and the White Rock .

The snow hole
A carving from 1865

Both are examples of nivation hollows.

Classifications of snow

Classifications of snow describe and categorize the attributes of snow-generating weather events, including the individual crystals both in the air and on the ground, and the deposited snow pack as it changes over time.

Snow accumulation on ground and in tree branches in Germany
Snow blowing across a highway in Canada
Spring snow on a mountain in France
Blizzard conditions with heavy snow, high winds and reduced visibility in New Jersey
Wilson Bentley micrograph showing two classes of snow crystals, plate and column.
Snow crystal with a column capped with plates, which are growing rime ice.
An early classification of snowflakes by Israel Perkins Warren.
Hoar frost on the snow surface from crystallized water vapor emerging on a cold, clear night
Cornice on an alp in France
Snowdrift in Gloucestershire
Sastrugi in Norway
Alpine firn in Austria
Penitentes under the night sky of the Atacama Desert
Suncups in England
Packing snow being rolled into a large snowball in Oxford, England.
Snow Crust about 6 cm thick in Austria

Névé – Névé is a young, granular type of snow which has been partially melted, refrozen and compacted, yet precedes the form of ice. This type of snow is associated with glacier formation through the process of nivation. Névé that survives a full season of ablation turns into firn, which is both older and slightly denser.

François E. Matthes

Geologist and an expert in topographic mapping, glaciers, and climate change.

Matthes resolved a dispute about formation of the Yosemite Valley and his findings on glaciers introduced the terms nivation and Little Ice Age.

Tarso Emi Chi

Volcano in Chad.

Traditional Toubou warriors

There is widespread evidence of nivation landforms on Mouskorbe above 2700 m and especially above 3000 m. Presently, precipitation at Mouskorbe is about 100 - 150 mm/year.