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Drainage system behaviour of a High-Arctic polythermal glacier

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Abstract:

Measurements made at John Evans Glacier, eastern Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada in 1994 and 1996 provide new insight into the internal hydrology of polythermal glaciers. During the early part of each melt season, supraglacial waters enter the glacier via a crevasse field about 4 km from the terminus and are stored in a subglacial reservoir. Release of the water from the reservoir occurs initially via an artesian fountain on the glacier surface and by upwelling of waters through subglacial sediments at the terminus (event 1). Channelization of the subglacial waters then occurs and water is discharged as an outburst flood (event 2), which releases a considerably larger volume of water than event 1. Thus, drainage of the subglacial reservoir follows a cyclical pattern in which discharge oscillations increase in amplitude over time. The cycle may end with complete reservoir drainage. The total volume of water released was much greater in 1994 than in 1996, primarily because the 1994 melt season was longer and warmer than the 1996 season. Interannual differences in the form of the outflow hydrographs, and in the extent and timing of connections between the subglacial reservoir and marginal melt streams, are linked to variations in the size and rate of growth of the subglacial reservoir. This hydrological behaviour may have important implications for the dynamics of polythermal glaciers.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3189/172756499781821922

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.

    Beginning in 2016, content will be available at https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/annals-of-glaciology.

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