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The nature of complex ice flow in Shirase Glacier catchment, East Antarctica

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The transition of inland to complex ice flow is investigated in the downstream area of Shirase Glacier catchment, East Antarctica. The 250 km long Mizuho Triangulation Chain (MTC; Naruse,1978),230 km upstream of the grounding line of Shirase Glacier, is re-analyzed by a force-balance analysis, in combination with balance-velocity estimates. Numerical model experiments were carried out with a two-dimensional thermomechanical higher-order ice-sheet model along a central flowline extending from the ice divide (Dome Fuji) to the grounding line of Shirase Glacier, passing through the MTC. Results show that complex flow originates near the MTC, where longitudinal normal stresses and normal drag in particular play a decisive role in the force balance. The fast-flow area, however, is geologically controlled and confined to the "bottleneck" or ice-flow convergence area, a few tens of kilometres upstream of the grounding line. In between the MTC and the grounding zone, longitudinal normal stress and basal sliding are dominant features of the ice-flow regime.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2003

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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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