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Numerical investigation of the effects of temporal variations in basal lubrication on englacial strain-rate distribution

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The effects of spatial and temporal variations in basal lubrication on the englacial strain rate and surface velocity distribution are investigated with a numerical ice-flow model. General aspects of the solutions are compared to measurements made on Lauteraargletscher, Switzerland, in 2001, that showed diurnal fluctuations in both surface velocity and englacial vertical strain. We find that spatial gradients in basal lubrication can set up variations in the deviatoric stress field that increases with distance to the bed and has a maximum value near the glacier surface. This stress field produces a significant strain rate near the surface. The temporal evolution of a slippery zone is identified as a possible cause of the observed diurnal variations in the vertical strain rate. Although general aspects of the measurements can be explained in this way, the calculated vertical strain rates are too small, suggesting that the modeled effective viscosity values using Glen's flow law are too large near the surface.

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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