Effects of basal sliding on isochrones and flow near an ice divide
Abstract:If an ice sheet is frozen to its bed, deep ice directly under a divide experiences low deviatoric stress and is relatively hard, because the rheology of polar ice is described by a power-law constitutive relation. In steady state, stratigraphic layers tend to form an arch ("Raymond bump") in this region. However, when the basal ice can slide, the stresses are redistributed, and longitudinal extension due to sliding is associated with increased deviatoric stress in the deep ice under the divide. This increased deviatoric stress weakens the tendency to form a Raymond bump. To find a realistic spatial distribution of sliding under an ice divide, we incorporate a thin layer of viscous till in a finite-element plane-strain flow model. The resulting basal "sliding" velocity varies approximately linearly with distance from the ice divide. By varying the till viscosity, we can adjust the amount of basal motion. We find that the Raymond bump decays exponentially with the fraction of total ice flux carried by sliding: the arch is 50% smaller when the sliding flux is only 7% of the total ice flux. This implies that the possibility of a wet bed must be considered when inferring past ice-divide locations from radar internal layering.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: June 1, 2003
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