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Calving processes and lake evolution at Miage glacier, Mont Blanc, Italian Alps

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A marginal ice-contact lake at Miage glacier, Mont Blanc, Italian Alps, has been studied to reconstruct changes in lake area. Historical sources, comprising sketches, maps, photographs and scientific surveys, have been supplemented by recent field surveys. These include surveys of glacier surface velocity (which varied along the glacier tongue from 70 m a−1 in the upper part to about 6 m a−1 close to the snout, consistent with data in the literature, showing that velocity rates have remained constant during the last 40 years), volumetric ice-cliff loss (−92 000 ± 180 m3 in 2002–03), lake temperature and bathymetry, and qualitative observation of calving events, crevassing, and meltwater production. Results indicate that the lake has been stable for the last half-century following a period of enlargement due to ice-marginal retreat. The lake hydrology is complex, with possible reversals of englacial water flow causing infrequent emptying episodes. The debris cover on the glacier and ice-cliff surfaces seems to have played an important role in the ice-cliff evolution and the calving phenomena; calving is driven by undercutting at the water-line aided by the opening of water- and debris-filled crevasses in the glacier surface.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2005-01-01

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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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