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Subaqueous melt rates at calving termini: a laboratory approach

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Abstract:

Numerous field and theoretical studies have pointed to an important role for subaqueous and waterline melting in the dynamics of calving glaciers. These processes remain unquantified because of the dangerous nature of the environment, a data gap which hampers both theoretical and numerical modelling studies. Here we report laboratory experiments designed to quantify waterline and subaqueous ice-melt rates in saline and fresh water. Experiments were conducted at temperatures of 1–10°C, a range typical of ice-contact environments, and at salinities of 0, 17.5 and 35 ppt. Results indicate that melt rates are slightly faster under fresh-water conditions, and that different thermohaline combinations can produce contrasting ice-front geometries. Thermo-notches develop quickly at higher temperatures (>4°C), and form most rapidly and to a greater extent in saline water. Contrasts in melt rates and ice-front geometry are controlled by temperature-driven density contrasts and circulation patterns. Rates of up to 0.8 m d-1 suggest that mass loss by subaqueous melting is a significant process at calving termini.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/172756403781816158

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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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