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Ice dynamics and basal properties of Sofiyskiy glacier, Altai mountains, Russia, based on DGPS and radio-echo sounding surveys

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Central Asian glaciers, compared to other glaciers in the world, should exhibit a different response to changing climate owing to (i) the extreme continentality that gives rise to aridity and large seasonal temperature variations, and (ii) the coincidence of accumulation and ablation seasons in summer. A detailed 4 year field survey has been carried out on Sofiyskiy glacier in the south Chuya range (Altai mountains), Russia. Field observations reveal that this glacier retreated steadily during the 20th century at a rate of 18.3 m a-1, considerably faster than Maliy Aktru glacier, 30 km to the north. Based on radio-echo sounding (RES), the subglacial topography of Sofiyskiy glacier has been reconstructed, and stake and snow-pit measurements enable the determination of surface velocity and mass balance. Basal sliding plays an important role in Sofiyskiy glacier's behaviour, as is shown by a force-balance analysis. An analysis of RES measurements yields the bed reflection power (BRP). Using the three-layer reflectivity model of Born and Wolf (1986), the BRP is compared with the theoretical bed reflectivity for two contrasting layers of varying porosity and thickness. Results indicate that Sofiyskiy glacier possibly exhibits a polythermal regime.

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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