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Decadal-scale variations in ice flow along Whillans Ice Stream and its tributaries, West Antarctica

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We investigate velocity changes occurring along Whillans Ice Stream (WIS) by comparing velocities derived from repeat aerial photographs acquired in 1985–89 (average date of 1987) to interferometric satellite radar (InSAR) velocities collected in 1997. Three different analysis methods are applied to the velocity data. First, temporal and spatial changes in velocities are correlated to identifiable features (flowlines, shear margins, bed features) visible on the 1997 RADARSAT Antarctic Mapping Project mosaic. Second, we relate velocity gradients to stresses via the flow law and, along with surface topography and ice-thickness data, apply the force-budget technique to determine the relative importance of driving stress, side drag and basal drag over time. Finally, the mass balance of the main part of WIS is determined for 1987 and 1997. Our results are consistent with previous studies that show an overall deceleration resulting in downstream thickening of the ice stream (Whillans and others, 2001; Joughin and others, 2002).

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2005-01-01

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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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