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Deduction of surface accumulation history from ice-core age/depth data

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Ice-core data are the only source of ice response on timescales of hundreds to thousands of years, which is necessary to describe polar ice-sheet flows and their interaction with changing climatic conditions. Ice properties, such as a grain growth relation, require knowledge of each ice particle's history since first deposited at the surface, and not simply the present core state. This study is an analysis of 11 'present' ice cores, using their age/depth data and present accumulation, to infer their past accumulation and mean strain rate and, in turn, the strain at each level of the core. These are the ingredients necessary to determine the particle paths and associated evolution of properties. The conventional assumptions of a purely vertical velocity distribution with a uniform compressive strain rate in the core are made, but unlike an earlier analysis which allowed independent surface accumulation and strain-rate histories, it is now assumed that the strain rate is proportional to the accumulation. Determination of the past accumulation and proportionality factor is accomplished by correlation with the present age/depth data, and while good correlations are obtained – a consistent solution – other close correlations can yield quite different accumulation histories and corresponding proportional strain-rate histories.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2013

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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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