Englacial phase changes and intergranular flow above subglacial lakes
Abstract:Glaciers are permeated by liquid veins that line the triple junctions between ice grains and act as conduits for material transport. The density difference between water and ice produces a hydraulic gradient that drives liquid flow down towards the glacier bed. We investigate how variations in this transport rate are manifest in the lower regions of a glacier that floats on a subglacial reservoir. When the temperature rises towards the glacier bed, the associated permeability increase leads to more rapid fluid transport; internal melting supplies the changing flow. A reduction in hydraulic gradient results from surface energy effects, and causes a decreasing transport rate near the base; hence, freezing occurs within the polycrystalline ice. For representative values of the heat flux, soluble impurity loading and grain-size, the downward flux peaks at approximately 1–100 mm a−1 several tens of centimeters above the glacier bed. Beneath this level, the effects of surface energy control the fluid transport and cause the flow to reverse directions, pulling liquid upwards into the polycrystalline ice so that the flow does not introduce glacial material into the underlying reservoir.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2005
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