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The onset area of Ice Stream D, West Antarctica

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Surface flow in a 10 000 km2 expanse of the onset area of Ice Stream D, West Antarctica, was measured by repeat, precise global positioning system surveys over a 1 year interval. The pattern of velocity and strain rate shows the development of Ice Stream D, the major flow into which originates south of Byrd station and follows the course of a deep bed channel. Plotting of the driving stress vs the ratio of velocity and ice thickness identifies the onset of streaming flow (roughly 140 km downstream of Byrd station) as a transition between deformation flow and sliding flow. Along the kinematic center line of the developing ice stream, the ice rheology is linear at stresses below 0.6 bar, and appears temperate at the base well before the onset of streaming is reached. The onset corresponds to a maximum driving stress of 0.8 bar. It occurs downstream of a slight increase in longitudinal strain rate where stronger along-flow lineations are apparent in Landsat imagery, and after the ice has passed the center of an overdeepening in the bed channel. No current deviation from equilibrium is detected in this region, but a set of flow stripes misaligned with present flow indicates significant changes in flow have occurred in the past.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2000

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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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