Stable isotopes and electrical conductivity as keys to understanding water pathways and storage in South Cascade Glacier, Washington, USA

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Measurements of electrical conductivity (EC) and deuterium isotopes in glacier run-off provide the basis for the application of simple mixing models that separate hydrographs into four constitutive components: subglacial, englacial, melt and rainfall-derived waters. Volumes of these components are determined from the models in two adjacent drainage basins within the glacier. Peak arrival times of both EC and isotopes during discharge events on short-term time-scales (days to weeks) differ in each terminus stream by as much as a factor of 5. Englacial water storage determined from the model varied greatly (98%) between neighboring basins within the glacier. Estimates of basal water volumes expressed as a layer thickness at the bed of the glacier differed by 50% (5 and 10 mm each). Other results suggest that a greater percentage of water is stored at the glacier bed during rainfall events, and exceeds the storage capacity found within the seasonal snow and englacial zones combined.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2005

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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