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Seasonal patterns of velocity and strain across the tongue of the polythermal glacier midre Lovénbreen, Svalbard

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Terrestrial surveys to 17 markers distributed across the tongue of the polythermal glacier midre Lovénbreen, Svalbard, are used to calculate annual and seasonal (summer 1998, autumn/winter/spring 1998/99, summer 1999) patterns of surface velocity and strain. The annual period and the three seasonal periods have similar velocity azimuths and patterns, with fastest velocities along the centre line and in the upper tongue. Velocities in both summers are of similar magnitude, and greater than those in the autumn/winter/spring period. In all periods, longitudinal compression (increasing towards the snout) and transverse and vertical extension dominate the surface strain field. However, an area of longitudinal extension develops in the middle tongue during the 1998 summer. Surface strain patterns are used to estimate the components of the force balance. Basal drag is the dominant force resisting flow, but patterns are rather different between the three seasons. In summer 1998, a slippery spot in the upper-middle tongue is confined to the central part of the glacier. In autumn/winter/spring, this slippery spot has expanded towards the western glacier margin. In summer 1999, it has disappeared, and a slight sticky spot now covers virtually the entire upper and middle tongue. The location and extent of the slippery spot are explained in terms of the distribution of warm and cold ice, and the location and morphology of the subglacial drainage system, which control the patterns of water pressure beneath the glacier tongue.

Document Type: Research Article


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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