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Force Budget: III. Application to Three-dimensional Flow of Byrd Glacier, Antarctica

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Stresses at the surface and at depth are calculated for a stretch of Byrd Glacier, Antarctica. The calculations are based on photogrammetrically determined velocities and elevations, and on radio-echo-determined ice thicknesses. The results are maps of drags from each valley wall, of normal forces laterally and longitudinally, and of basal drag. Special challenges in the calculation are the numerical gridding of velocity, ensuring that unreasonable short-wavelength features do not develop in the calculation, and inference of ice thickness where there are no data.

The results show important variations in basal drag. For the floating part, basal drag is near zero, as expected. Within the grounded part, longitudinal components of basal drag are very variable, reaching 300 kPa with a dominant wavelength of 13 km. Generally, these drag maxima correlate with maxima in driving stress. Usually the across-glacier component of basal drag is small. An important exception occurs in the center of the grounded part of the glacier where the flow shows major deviations from the axis of the valley.

Other results are that side drag is roughly constant at 250 kPa along both margins of the glacier, tension from the ice shelf is about 100 kPa, and tension in the grounded part cycles between 250 and 150 kPa. Calculated deep velocities are too large and this is attributed to deficiencies in the conventional isotropic flow law used.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Byrd Polar Research Center and Department of Geology and Mineralogy, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210-1308, U.S.A. 2: Byrd Polar Research Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210-1308, U.S.A. 3: Department of Geological Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, Maine 04469, U.S.A.

Publication date: 1989-01-01

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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