Curvilinear flow stripes appear on aerial photographs and satellite imagery of polar ice. On Byrd Glacier, Antarctica, flow stripes are especially prominent and can be detected on AVHRR imagery down to the ice shelf margin.
Aerial photographs of Byrd Glacier (Brecher, 1986) are used to determine photogrammetrically the relief associated with flow stripes on two transverse profiles separated by a distance of 65 km. Two kinds of stripes are found, topographic and textural flow stripes. Topographic flow stripes are associated with a ridge-trough topography with double amplitudes of 7 m to 45 m and slopes of 1–7 %. The valleys of the topographic flow stripes appear bright in the photographs and correspond to snow-covered areas, while ridges appear in general as dark stripes that correspond to bare ice areas with abundant crevasses. Textural flow stripes correspond to bands of distinct crevasse pattern which are not associated with topography.
The photogrammetric information is correlated with the brightness pattern across flow stripes that appears on Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) data. Flow stripes decay rapidly on the AVHRR imagery over the first 40 km downstream from Byrd Glacier and some persist for nearly 400 km to the front of the Ross Ice Shelf.
Velocity was measured across a transect on the upstream photogrammetric profile. There are no velocity discontinuities across the boundaries of flow stripes, which shows that lateral shear between flow stripes is not a valid mechanism for explaining their persistence.