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Changes in the margin of Ice Stream C, Antarctica

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We present results from satellite imagery, ice-motion surveys and ice-penetrating radar studies of part of the north margin of Ice Stream C, one of the ice streams draining theWest Antarctic ice sheet to the "Ross Embayment''. Our studies suggest that the shutdown of Ice Stream C about 150 years ago was not a single event, but a sequence involv- ing stagnation of ice and migration of the ice-stream boundary. Ground-based studies confirm the inference from imagery that a series of former shear zones exist, decreasing in age towards the ice-stream center. A region of ice-stream trunk, including a former margin, lies sheared and folded between the (recent) inner and (older) outer margins of the area. Ice-motion and topographic surveys give some constraint on the time of shutdown of the outer margin. The results provide a forum for discussing shutdown mechanisms. Possible causes for the stepwise migration of the north margin of Ice Stream C include a gradual decrease in ice flux, a reduction in the available water or hydrostatic pressure in the basal till, or a freezing of the till layers on the northern side.

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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