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Calving speed and climatic sensitivity of New Zealand lake-calving glaciers

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Calving speeds and calving mechanisms in fresh water contrast with those in tidewater. We obtained calving speeds for six lake-calving glaciers in New Zealand's Southern Alps, and surveyed the depths and temperatures of their ice-contact lakes. The glaciers are temperate, grounded in shallow (≤20 m) water, and exhibit compressive flow at their termini. These data increase the global dataset of fresh-water calving statistics by 40%, bringing the total to 21glaciers. For this dataset, calving rates (uc) correlate positively with water depths (hw) (r2 = 0.83), the relationship being expressed by: uc = 17.4 + 2.3hw. This is an order of magnitude lower than values of uc at temperate tide-water glaciers. For a subset of 10 glaciers for which ice-proximal water temperature (tw) data are available, uc also correlates positively with tw, supporting a physical relation between calving and melting at and below the water-line. Fluctuations of New Zealand lake-calving glaciers in the period 1958–97 show that although the transition from non-calving to calving dramatically increases frontal retreat rates, the onset of calving does not isolate terminus change from climatic forcing. In terms of climatic sensitivity, lake-calving glaciers occupy an intermediate position between tidewater glaciers (least sensitive) and non-calving glaciers (most sensitive).

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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