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Deducing the thermal structure in the tongue of Gornergletscher, Switzerland, from radar surveys and borehole measurements

  • O. Eisen (a1) (a2), A. Bauder (a1), M. Lüthi (a1), P. Riesen (a1) and M. Funk (a1)...

Abstract

We present the thermal distribution in the confluence area of Gorner- and Grenzgletscher, Valais, Switzerland. The area was mapped by ice-penetrating radar at 1–5 and 40 MHz. The higher-frequency data reveal a thick surface layer of low backscatter in the center of the Grenzgletscher branch. Based on datasets of borehole-temperature measurements and flow velocity, we interpret this as a thick layer of cold ice, advected from the accumulation region of Grenzgletscher. Along seven profiles the base of the low-backscatter zone can be found at a maximum depths between approximately 100 and 200 m. Laterally, the layer extends some 400 m, ∼1/3 of the width of the Grenzgletscher branch. The lower boundary of the low-backscatter zone is systematically higher than the cold–temperate transition surface found in the boreholes. This discrepancy is attributed to the direct sensitivity of radar backscatter to liquid-water inclusions, rather than to the temperature distributions as observed in boreholes. We present the current state of the cold layer and discuss its influence on other glacier characteristics.

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References

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Deducing the thermal structure in the tongue of Gornergletscher, Switzerland, from radar surveys and borehole measurements

  • O. Eisen (a1) (a2), A. Bauder (a1), M. Lüthi (a1), P. Riesen (a1) and M. Funk (a1)...

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