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Spatial and temporal scales of anisotropic effects in ice-sheet flow

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Along most particle paths in polar ice sheets, ice experiences a slowly changing local deviatoric-stress pattern, and develops a fabric characteristic of its current stress state, in which there is generally a correspondence between non-zero strain-rate components and non-zero deviatoric-stress components. Where the stress pattern changes rapidly in special transition zones, fabric may evolve more slowly than the local stress field, and unusual or unexpected deformation patterns can result. The degree to which fabric tracks the local stress is determined by the relative characteristic times for changes in stress, given by the transition-zone width and ice velocity, and for changes in crystal orientation, given, in the absence of recrystallization, by the inverse of the local strain rate due to the principal stress. Recrystallization can significantly reduce the time-scale of fabric adjustment. We examine transition zones where ice (a) enters ice-stream margins, (b) is overrun by a migrating divide, and (c) flows through a strong saddle. Stress and fabric tend to be significantly misaligned in ice-stream margins and in flow through a saddle. When stresses that are markedly different from in situ stresses are applied to ice specimens during creep tests, deformation may be difficult to interpret.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 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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