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Length, width and slope influences on glacier surging

  • Garry K. C. Clarke (a1)

Abstract

Statistical analysis of 1754 normal and surge-type glaciers of the Yukon Territory, Canada, reveals that the two glacier types have significantly different average geometries. Surge-type glaciers tend to be longer, wider and to have lower overall slope than normal glaciers. Because there are strong intercorrelations involving length, width and slope, it is not immediately clear which relationships are fundamental and which are secondary. Multiple correlation analysis allows these confusions to be resolved and reveals that the correlation between length and surge tendency is the fundamental one. The direct correlation between surge tendency and width and the inverse correlation between surge tendency and slope are entirely a result of the length-width and length-slope correlations. This conclusion may have implications for the glacier-surge mechanism because one prediction of the Kamb theory of surging is that small slopes (as opposed to great lengths) favour surging. Fowler’s theory of surging predicts that glaciers for which the product θw 2 (where θ is slope and w is width) is small are more likely to be surge-type than those for which the product is large, but analysis of the correlation between this parameter and surge tendency lends no support to this claim.

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Copyright

References

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