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Dynamic behaviour analysis of glacier de Saint Sorlin, France, from 40 years of observations, 1957–97

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Mass-balance and dynamic measurements carried out on glacier de Saint Sorlin since 1957 provide a good opportunity to study the dynamics of this glacier. Ice-flow analysis shows that dynamic changes have been important over the last 40 years and that these changes are not consistent with the concepts usually used in glacier modelling. Present velocities are larger than the 1960 velocities, although the thickness decreased everywhere (10–30 m in the ablation zone). A simple numerical ice-flow model which does not include longitudinal stress gradients has been used to investigate these phenomena. This model allows us to infer the sliding velocity from observed surface and calculated deformation velocities. We conclude that: (1) the sliding velocity cannot be described by Weertman analysis or empirical relations which link the sliding to the thickness and surface slope; (2) the inferred sliding velocity is uniform over at least half of the glacier; and (3) there is no clear link between the sliding process and the quantity of water coming from surface ablation. Furthermore, it may not be reasonable to calibrate model flow parameters from geometry changes because the surface geometry is relatively insensitive to velocity changes over some decades.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 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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