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Seasonal variations in ice deformation and basal motion across the tongue of Haut Glacier d’Arolla, Switzerland

  • Ian Willis (a1), Douglas Mair (a2), Bryn Hubbard (a3), Peter Nienow (a4), Urs H. Fischer (a5) and Alun Hubbard (a6)...

Abstract

Records of surface motion, englacial tilt and repeat inclinometry are used to determine patterns of surface, internal and basal motion across the tongue of Haut Glacier d’Arolla, Switzerland, over temporal scales ranging from days to months. Findings are interpreted with reference to contemporaneous measurements of subglacial water pressures, and prior knowledge of the glacier’s subglacial drainage-system structure. Long-term inclinometry results show pronounced extrusion flow over a subglacial drainage axis, with basal velocities up to twice those measured at the glacier surface. Deformation profiles are more conventional away from the drainage axis, with basal velocities ∼60–70% of surface velocities. Comparison of long-term tilt rates from repeat inclinometry and englacial tiltmeters shows close correspondence. Englacial tiltmeter data are used to reconstruct internal velocity profiles and to split surface velocities into internal deformation and basal motion contributions over spring, summer and autumn/winter periods. Although, spatial patterns of surface movement are similar between periods, patterns of internal and basal motion are not. Results are interpreted in terms of the location of sticky and slippery spots, with temporally changing patterns of basal drag reflecting changing distributions of water pressure.

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References

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