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Basal conditions and glacier motion during the winter/spring transition, Worthington Glacier, Alaska, U.S.A.

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Abstract:

Observations of the motion and basal conditions of Worthington Glacier, Alaska, U.S.A., during late-winter and spring melt seasons revealed no evidence of a relationship between water pressure and sliding velocity. Measurements included borehole water levels (used as a proxy for basal water pressure), surface velocity, englacial deformation, sliding velocity, and time-lapse videography of subglacial water flow and bed characteristics. The boreholes were spaced 10-15 m apart; six were instrumented in 1997, and five in 1998. In late winter, the water-pressure field showed spatially synchronous fluctuations with a diurnal cycle. The glacier's motion was relatively slow and non-cyclic. In spring, the motion was characterized by rapid, diurnally varying sliding. The basal water pressure displayed no diurnal signal, but showed high-magnitude fluctuations and often strong gradients between holes. This transition in character of the basal water-pressure field may represent a seasonal evolution of the drainage system from linked cavities to a networkof isolated patches and conduits. These changes occurred as the glacier was undergoing a seasonal-velocity peak. The apparent lack of correlation between sliding velocity and water pressure suggests that local-scale water pressure does not directly control sliding during late winter or early in the melt season.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/172756502781831629

Publication date: January 1, 2002

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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igsoc/jog/2002/00000048/00000160/art00005
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