Ice dynamics during a surge of Sortebrae, East Greenland

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Sortebrae, a large tidewater-terminating glacier in East Greenland, underwent a major surge between 1992 and 1995 during which the glacier terminus advanced by nearly 10 km. In this paper, intensity tracking, interferometry and visual interpretation have been used to characterize the ice dynamics during the surge from satellite synthetic aperture radar images. The surge had a rapid initiation that saw velocities increase by 60-1500 times, and within 13 months the entire lower 53 km of the glacier was affected. Surge termination occurred very rapidly during summer, and ice velocity dropped from around 20 m d-1 to around 2 m d-1 in only 3 months. Uniquely, part of the upper glacier remained fast-flowing even after the main surge event had terminated. Ice dynamics together with observations of large turbid lakes at the glacier margins suggest that the surge resulted from a throttling of basal water by a switch in the hydrological system.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2002

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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