Studying the effects of strain heating on glacial flow within outlet glaciers from the Heimefrontfjella Range, Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica

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A one-dimensional numerical thermodynamic model is used to study the effects of strain heating on temperature profiles along the flowline of two outlet glaciers in Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, flowing down a steep escarpment. Measurements of ice surface velocities on the glaciers show higher speeds than surface speeds calculated using Glen's flow law. These calculations are based on ice-temperature distributions excluding strain heating in the general heat equation. The incorporation of strain heating in the general heat equation produces higher ice temperatures, and calculated ice surface speeds that are close to the measured values. It is found that relatively short-scale temporal and spatial steps in basal topography are enough to drive the ice flow into a positive feedback loop as long as the bedrock step produces a stress that overcomes the advection of cool ice from the surface. In this case, where surface temperatures are -25°C, stresses of 0.4 MPa are enough to drive the base of the ice to the melting point within 102 years.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 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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