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How do glaciers respond to climate? Perspectives from the simplest models

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We study the approximations underlying the macroscopic theory of glacier response to climate, and illustrate some basic properties of glacier response using two simple examples, a block on an inclined plane and a block with a more realistic terminal region. The properties include nonlinearity and the usefulness of linear approximations, sensitivity to bed slope, timescale, stability, characteristic elevations of the equilibrium line at which the properties of the response change, the limit of fast response in a changing climate, the minimum sustainable size, increased sensitivity to climate change as a glacier retreats, and finally the similarity in the responses of simple glaciers with the same product of length and square of bed slope.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2013

More about this publication?
  • 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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