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The role of crystal fabric in flow near an ice divide

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Polycrystalline ice near an ice divide typically shows a crystal fabric (crystal preferred orientation) with c axes clustered vertically. We explore the effect of this fabric on the large-scale flow pattern near an ice divide. We incorporate an analytical formulation for anisotropy into a non-linear flow law within a finite-element ice-sheet flow model. With four different depth profiles of crystal fabric, we find that the effect of fabric is significant only when a profile has a minimum cone angle of less than ∼25°. For a steady-state divide, the shape and size of the isochrone arch can depend as much on the crystal fabric as it does on the non-linearity of ice flow. A vertically oriented fabric tends to increase the size of the isochrone arch, never to reduce it. Also, non-random fabric has little effect on the ice-divide-flow pattern when ice is modeled as a linear (Newtonian) fluid. Finally, when we use a crystal-fabric profile that closely approximates the measured profile for Siple Dome, West Antarctica, the model predicts concentrated bed-parallel shearing 300 m above the bed.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2007-03-01

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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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