Short-term variations in calving of a tidewater glacier: LeConte Glacier, Alaska, U. S. A.

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Knowledge of iceberg calving is important for understanding instabilities of tidewater glaciers and ice sheets. Since 1995 the terminus of LeConte Glacier, Alaska, U. S. A., has retreated about 2 km and the glacier has thinned approximately 120 m at its 1999 terminus position. Our focus is short-term (hours to weeks) variability of the frequency and magnitude of calving events and calving flux. Both photogrammetric and visual observations are employed in a temporal analysis over a several-week period. We combined these data with measurements of ice speed, tide level, surface water input and water-storage estimates in an attempt to better understand the calving process. Contrary to results obtained over longer time-scales on other glaciers, our results show no correlation between ice speed and the frequency of calving. However, calving events do not appear to occur randomly; often they are a response to measurable changes in other parameters within the terminus region. Caclving can often be attributed to buoyancy perturbations and possibly flexure of the nearly floating terminus. Given the multiple possibilities for buoyancy perturbations, we have found no simple relationship between any specific forcing parameter and calving at short time-scales.

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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