Melt regimes, stratigraphy, flow dynamics and glaciochemistry of three glaciers in the Alaska Range

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We used ground-penetrating radar (GPR), GPS and glaciochemistry to evaluate melt regimes and ice depths, important variables for mass-balance and ice-volume studies, of Upper Yentna Glacier, Upper Kahiltna Glacier and the Mount Hunter ice divide, Alaska. We show the wet, percolation and dry snow zones located below ∼2700 m a.s.l., at ∼2700 to 3900 m a.s.l. and above 3900 m a.s.l., respectively. We successfully imaged glacier ice depths upwards of 480 m using 40–100 MHz GPR frequencies. This depth is nearly double previous depth measurements reached using mid-frequency GPR systems on temperate glaciers. Few Holocene-length climate records are available in Alaska, hence we also assess stratigraphy and flow dynamics at each study site as a potential ice-core location. Ice layers in shallow firn cores and attenuated glaciochemical signals or lacking strata in GPR profiles collected on Upper Yentna Glacier suggest that regions below 2800 m a.s.l. are inappropriate for paleoclimate studies because of chemical diffusion, through melt. Flow complexities on Kahiltna Glacier preclude ice-core climate studies. Minimal signs of melt or deformation, and depth–age model estimates suggesting ∼4815 years of ice on the Mount Hunter ice divide (3912 m a.s.l.) make it a suitable Holocene-age ice-core location.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2012

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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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