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A surface motion survey of Black Rapids Glacier, Alaska, U.S.A.

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We describe a derivation of surface velocities and associated errors for Black Rapids Glacier, Alaska, U.S.A., using single-orbital-path synthetic aperture radar interferometry (InSAR). The technique described is adapted to small temperate glaciers with complex flow patterns. We also describe a motion anomaly, apparent in the InSAR phase signal, that persisted on Black Rapids Glacier for at least 78 days during winter 1991/92 and recurred in 1996. This anomaly is interpreted using a basal hydrology hypothesis in which a hydraulic head is maintained at the glacier bed at close to the overburden pressure. This permits a cumulative influx of 1.6×106 m3 of water under the glacier, a sort of shallow subglacial lake, that migrates downstream at an average rate of 30 m d-1 over 78 days. The motion anomaly is speculated to be an unsuccessful bid for surge initiation.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2003

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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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