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Bed topography and lubrication inferred from surface measurements on fast-flowing ice streams

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Observations of surface elevation (s) and horizontal velocity components (u and v) are inverted to infer the topography (b) and lubrication (c) at the bed of an ice stream, based on a linearized perturbation theory of the transmission of flow disturbances through the ice thickness. Synthetic data are used to illustrate non-uniqueness in the inversion, but also demonstrate that effects of b and c can be separated when s, u and v are specified, even with added noise to simulate measurement errors. We have analyzed prominent short-horizontal-scale (~2 km) features in topography and velocity pattern in a local 64 km by 32 km area of the surface of Ice Stream E, West Antarctica. Our preferred interpretation of bed conditions beneath the most prominent features on the surface identifies a deep trough in the basal topography with low lubrication in the base of the trough.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 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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