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Estimation of water content in a temperate glacier from radar and seismic sounding data

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Radio-wave velocity measurements in temperate and polythermal glaciers, combined with dielectric mixture formulae by Looyenga or Paren, have been used during the last decade to estimate the water content in temperate ice. We have used a similar mixture formula by Riznichenko, but based on elastic properties of the material, to estimate the water content from seismic velocity data. To compare the suitability of the two methods, we have used seismic and radar data from a temperate glacier on an Antarctic island. The estimated water contents are within 0.4-2.3% (average 1.2 ± 0.6%) when radio-wave velocities are used, and within 0.9-3.2% (average 2.2 ± 0.9%) when seismic velocities are used. These results are similar to those directly measured from ice cores and to those estimated from radar data on other temperate glaciers. The water-content estimates from seismic data are higher than those from radar data, which we attribute to the different behaviour of seismic and radar velocities as functions of density. Near-surface conditions (ice-firn conditions, presence of crevasses, etc.) have a strong influence on the propagation of elastic and electromagnetic waves, and thus on the accuracy of the velocity determinations and water-content estimates, and so should not be disregarded.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2003-06-01

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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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