Analyses of a surging outlet glacier of Vatnajökull ice cap, Iceland

Authors: Ađalgeirsdóttir, Guðfinna; Björnsson, Helgi; Pálsson, Finnur; Magnússon, Eyjólfur

Source: Annals of Glaciology, Volume 42, Number 1, August 2005 , pp. 23-28(6)

Publisher: International Glaciological Society

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Abstract:

Many of the large outlet glaciers of Vatnajökull ice cap, Iceland, have a history of regular surges. The mass transport during surges can be up to 25% of the total ice flux. This is a considerable amount that affects the whole ice cap, the location of the ice divides, the flow field and the size and shape of the ice cap. Data from the surging outlet Dyngjujökull, on the northern side of Vatnajökull, which surged during the period 1998–2000, are presented: surface elevation changes, displacement and total mass tr ansport. The total gain in ice volume in the receiving area, due to the surge, is considerably smaller than the loss in the reservoir area. The difference is mainly due to enhanced melting rates on the larger surface area of the crevassed glacier surface, and increased turbulent fluxes above the surface, but also due to increased frictional melting at the bed during the surge. A two-dimensional vertically integrated numerical flow model, of standard shallow-ice approximation type, is used to show that a modeled glacier that is similar in size to Dyngjujökull and subject to the same mass balance has three times higher velocities than the measured velocity during the quiescent phase. Adding surges in the numerical model, by periodically increasing the sliding velocity, causes the glacier to retreat and oscillate around a smaller state when subject to the same mass-balance regime. Lowering the equilibrium line by 50 m lets the modeled surging glacier oscillate around a size similar to that of the present glacier, indicating that surging is an efficient long-term ablation mechanism.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/172756405781812934

Publication date: August 1, 2005

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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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