Sliding over anisotropic beds

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Many glacier beds are anisotropic, by which is meant that the dominant wavelengths are different in the two map-plane directions. A largely unexplored consequence of Nye–Kamb sliding theory is the fact that an anisotropic bed can produce a sliding velocity not parallel to the tangential traction vector. This has important consequences, since observations of non-parallel flow are often taken as indications that the shallow-ice approximation has broken down, whereas this need not be the case with an anisotropic bed.

Mathematically, this effect can be incorporated through the use of a sliding tensor. The mathematical properties of this tensor are outlined, and the correct "invariant" for the sliding law, a quadratic form, is deduced. Nye–Kamb theory for anisotropic beds is discussed. Flow on the infinite plane and the properties of surface-topography diffusion are elucidated. The properities of kinematic waves and shock waves are discussed. Kinematic waves can have a lateral component. Numerical computations of ice-sheet flow on beds with anisotropic roughness are presented, with emphasis placed on how this affects divide-ridge structure. It is suggested that cold-based ice sheets, which have an anisotropic bed affecting the shear layer, may also show non-parallelism of surface slope and velocity.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2000

More about this publication?
  • 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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