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Ice Movement and Temperature Distribution in Glaciers and Ice Sheets*

  • G. de Q. Robin (a1)

Abstract

The distribution of temperature throughout an ice sheet has been considered, taking into account the influence of ice movement as well as other items previously considered, such as conduction, the geothermal outflow of heat and heat generated by ice movement. By making certain simplifying assumptions, a quantitative method of estimating the temperature distribution near the centre of an ice sheet has been put forward.

It is shown that even a small mean annual accumulation will have considerable effect on the temperature distribution in a large ice sheet. For a moderate rate of accumulation a substantial fraction of the total thickness of ice at the centre of a large ice sheet may be isothermal at the prevailing surface ice temperature. Under these conditions at some distance from the centre, the change in the surface ice temperature with elevation may produce a temperature gradient opposite to normal, that is the temperature falls with increasing depth below the surface, due to the outward movement of the ice. Observed temperature gradients on ice sheets fit the proposed hypotheses roughly, but it appears that climatic change should also be taken into account.

It is suggested that a rise from temperatures below melting point at the base of ice sheets may provide an explanation of the occasional catastrophic advances of certain glaciers.

Zusammenfassung

Es wird die Temperaturverteilung durch eine ganze Eiskappe hindurch erwogen. Der Einfluss der Eisbewegung sowohl wie anderer schon früher erwogener Punkte wurde dabei in Betracht gezogen, wie z. B. Wärmeleitung, geothermischer Wärmeauslauf und durch Eisbewegung erzeugte Wärme. Es wurden gewisse vereinfachende Voraussetzungen getroffen, die eine quantitative Methode zur Bestimmung der Temperaturverteilung nahe dem Zentrum einer Eiskappe ermöglichten.

Es wird gezeigt, dass selbst eine im Jahresdurchschnitt kleine Akkumulation eine beträchtliche Einwirkung auf die Temperaturverteilung in einer grossen Eiskappe hat. Bei mässiger Akkumulation kann ein beträchtlicher Teil der gesamten Eisdichte im Zentrum einer grossen Eiskappe bei der vorherrschenden Oberflächen-Eistemperatur isothermisch sein. Unter diesen Umständen kann die Änderung der Oberflächen-Eistemperatur mit Ansteigen in einiger Entfernung vom Zentrum ein’dem Normalen entgegengesetztes Temperaturgefälle produzieren, das heisst die Temperatur fällt mit zunehmender Tiefe unter der Oberfläche auf Grund der nach aussen gerichteten Bewegung des Eises. Beobachtete Temperaturgefälle in Eisflächen stimmen ungefähr mit der vorgeschlagenen Hypothese überein, aber es scheint, dass klimatische Wechsel auch in Betracht gezogen werden sollten.

Es wird erwogen, dass Erhöhung von Temperaturen unter dem Schmelzpunkt am Grunde von Eiskappen eine Erklärung für das gelegentlich katastrophale Vorrücken gewisser Gletscher aufweisen könnte.

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Copyright

Footnotes

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*

Based on a paper read at the tenth General Assembly of the I.U.G.G., Rome, 1954 and expanded.

Footnotes

References

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1. Brockamp, B. Nachtrag zu den wissenschaftlichen Ergebnissen der Deutschen Grönlandexpedition Alfred Wegener. Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie, Geologie und Paläontologie. Bd. 93, Ht. 2, 1951, p. 177232.
2. Brockamp, B. Zur Frage der Vereisungszentren. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie. Montashefte, Ht. 5, 1952, p. 193202.
3. Benfield, A. E. The temperature in an accumulating snowfield. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Geophysical Supplement, Vol. 6, No. 3, 1951, p. 13947.
4. Nye, J. F. The flow of glaciers and ice-sheets as a problem in plasticity. Proceedings of the Royal Society, A, Vol. 207, 1951, p. 55472.
5. Nye, J. F. A method of calculating the thicknesses of the ice-sheets. Nature, Vol. 169, No. 4300, 1952, p. 52930.
6. Jeffreys, H. The earth: its origin, history and physical constitution. Third edition. Cambridge, University Press, 1952, p. 282.
7. Fisher, J. E. Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 2, No. 18, 1955, p. 58391.
8. Fisher, J. E. The cold ice tunnel on the Silbersattel, Monte Rosa. Preliminary report. Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 2, No. 13, 1953, p. 19396.
9. Fisher, J. E. The cold ice tunnel on the Silbersattel, Monte Rosa. 1953 progress. Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 2, No. 15, 1954, p. 341.
10. Schytt, V. Glaciology in Queen Maud Land. Geographical Review, Vol. 44, No. 1, 1954, p. 7087.
11. Haefeli, R. [Paper read before the International Commission on Snow and Ice at the Tenth General Assembly of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics, Rome, 1954.]
12. Holtzscherer, J.-J. Ibid.
13. Robin, G. de Q. Ibid.
14. Bauer, A. Ibid.
15. Ahlmann, H. W:son. The contribution of polar expeditions to the science of glaciology. Polar Record, Vol. 5, Nos. 37, 38, 1949, p. 32431.
16. Ahlmann, H. W:son.. Glacier variations and climatic fluctuations. New York, American Geographical Society, 1953.
17. Heuberger, J.-C. Glaciologie. Groenland. Vol. 1: Forages sur l’inlandsis. Paris, Hermann & Cie, 1954. (Expéditions Polaires Françaises [travaux], 5.)
18. Loewe, F. Höhenverhältnisse und Massenhaushalt des grönländischen Inlandeises. Gerlands Beiträge zur Geophysik, Bd. 46, 1936, p. 31730; Bd. 48, 1936, p. 86–89.
19. Glen, J. W: Rate of flow of polycrystalline ice. Nature, Vol. 172, No. 4381, 1953, p. 72122.
20. Desio, A. An exceptional glacier advance in the Karakoram-Ladakh region. Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 2, No. ,6, 1954, p. 38385.
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Journal of Glaciology
  • ISSN: 0022-1430
  • EISSN: 1727-5652
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