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The role of ice thickness and bed properties on the dynamics of the enhanced-flow tributaries of Bailey Ice Stream and Slessor Glacier, East Antarctica

  • David M. Rippin (a1), Jonathan L. Bamber (a2), Martin J. Siegert (a2), David G. Vaughan (a3) and Hugh F. J. Corr (a3)...

Abstract

Airborne radio-echo sounding investigations in the upper reaches of Bailey Ice Stream and Slessor Glacier, Coats Land, East Antarctica, have shown that enhanced-flow tributaries are associated with well-defined areas of relatively thicker ice, and are separated from each other by areas of relatively thinner ice. A numerical modelling study has revealed that while internal ice deformation might account for all the observed flow in inter-tributary areas and the majority in the Slessor tributaries, a significant proportion of the flow of Bailey tributary is attributable to basal motion. Further, investigations of depth-corrected basal reflection power indicate that the bed underlying both Bailey and Slessor enhanced-flow tributaries is significantly smoother than in the slower-moving inter-tributary areas. It is thus proposed that enhanced motion within Bailey tributary (and also perhaps Slessor) may be facilitated by a reduction in basal roughness, caused by the accumulation of water and/or sediments within subglacial valleys, or by the erosion and smoothing of bed obstacles.

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References

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