Seasonal variations in ice deformation and basal motion across the tongue of Haut Glacier d'Arolla, Switzerland

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Records of surface motion, englacial tilt and repeat inclinometry are used to determine patterns of surface, internal and basal motion across the tongue of Haut Glacier d'Arolla, Switzerland, over temporal scales ranging from days to months. Findings are interpreted with reference to contemporaneous measurements of subglacial water pressures, and prior knowledge of the glacier's subglacial drainage-system structure. Long-term inclinometry results show pronounced extrusion flow over a subglacial drainage axis, with basal velocities up to twice those measured at the glacier surface. Deformation profiles are more conventional away from the drainage axis, with basal velocities ~60–70% of surface velocities. Comparison of long-term tilt rates from repeat inclinometry and englacial tilt-meters shows close correspondence. Englacial tiltmeter data are used to reconstruct internal velocity profiles and to split surface velocities into internal deformation and basal motion contributions over spring, summer and autumn/winter periods. Although, spatial patterns of surface movement are similar between periods, patterns of internal and basal motion are not. Results are interpreted in terms of the location of sticky and slippery spots, with temporally changing patterns of basal drag reflecting changing distributions of water pressure.

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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