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Variegated Glacier, Alaska, USA: a century of surges

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A 1995 surge of Variegated Glacier, Alaska, USA, is discussed in the context of its six 20th-century predecessors, especially the previous surge in 1982/83 which was studied in detail. The average time between surge initiations is 15 years. The 1995 surge was considerably weaker than its predecessors, having a single phase or at most a very weak second phase. The 1995 surge confirms that there is a seasonal cycle, with surge initiation in winter and termination in the first part of the melt season, and a correlation between weather and both surge termination date and surge extent. Two days of record high temperature correlated with the termination of the 1995 surge. The most obvious issue is the absence of a strong second surge phase (as there was in the 1982/83 surge) culminating in a surge extent more in line with that of the predecessors. This is considered in the light of a simple criterion for surge initiation and re-initiation which depends upon the evolving basal shear stress.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2005

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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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