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Thermomechanical modelling of the Scandinavian ice sheet: implications for ice-stream formation

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This work attempts to explain the fan-like landform assemblages observed in satellite images of the area covered by the former Scandinavian ice sheet (SIS). These assemblages have been interpreted as evidence of large ice streams within the SIS. If this interpretation is correct, then it calls into doubt current theories on the formation of ice streams. These theories regard soft sediment and topographic troughs as being the key determinants of ice-stream location. Neither can be used to explain the existence of ice streams on the flat, hard-rock area of the Baltic Shield. Initial results from a three-dimensional, thermomechanical ice-sheet model indicate that interactions between ice flow, form and temperature can create patterns similar to those mentioned above. The model uses a realistic, 20 km resolution gridded topography and a simple parameterization of accumulation and ablation. It produces patterns of maximum ice-sheet extent, which are similar to those reconstructed from the area's glacial geomorphology. Flow in the maximum, equilibrium ice sheet is dominated by wedges of warm, low-viscosity, fast-flowing ice. These are separated by areas of cold, slow-flowing ice. This patterning appears to develop spontaneously as the modelled ice sheet grows.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1999-01-01

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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