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The surges of Variegated Glacier, Alaska, U.S.A., and their connection to climate and mass balance

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Abstract:

One of the questions still unanswered concerning the surge behavior of glaciers concerns their quasi-periodic occurrence. Some results on the phenomenological connection between local cumulative balance and surge initiation of Variegated Glacier, Alaska, U.S.A., are discussed here. Based on climate data from neighboring weather stations, an empirical relation between precipitation, temperature and local mass balance is established and used to reconstruct the annual balance at a location in the accumulation area back to 1905. Between the last four surges in 1946/47,1964/65,1982/83 and 1994/95, the ice-equivalent cumulative balance was 43.5 m on average, with a 1  error of 1.2 m. Although the existence of a surge level cannot be directly interpreted in physical terms, it explains the variable length of the quiescent periods of Variegated Glacier by variations in the accumulation rate prior to the surge. We use the surge level to hindcast former unobserved surges, to compare the results with other surge datings obtained from photographs and to establish a complete surge history for Variegated Glacier for the 20th century.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/172756501781832179

Publication date: June 1, 2001

More about this publication?
  • 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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