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As part of a long-term mass-balance program run by SWEDARP since 1988, a detailed study on Plogbreen, Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, was undertaken during the austral summer of 2003 to investigate the long-term mass balance. We compare ice outflux, φout, through a cross-sectional gate with ice influx, φin, from the upstream catchment area. The φin is based on calculations of snow accumulation upstream of the gate using data available from published ice-core records. The φout is based on Glen’s flow law aided by thermodynamic modeling and force-budget calculations. Input data from the field consist of measurements of ice surface velocity and ice geometry. The ice surface velocity was measured using repeated differential global positioning system surveying of 40 stakes over a period of 25 days. The ice geometry was determined by 174 km of ground-penetrating radar profiling using ground-based 8MHz dipole antennas. This study presents the collected velocity and geometry data as well as the calculated ice flux of Plogbreen. The results show a negatively balanced system within the uncertainty limits; φout = 0.55 ± 0.05 km3 a–1 and φin = 0.4 ± 0.1 km3 a–1. We speculate that the negative balance can be explained by recent eustatic increase reducing resistive stresses and inducing accelerated flow.
We apply the force-budget technique using the isothermal block-flow model, on Storglaciaren, Sweden, to investigate the ratio between basal drag and driving stress in relation to a bedrock ridge in the bed topography during a peak melt season. The input data consist of glacier surface velocities collected using differential global positioning system surveying of a stake net and geometry from previous radar soundings and digitized ice surface maps. The study focuses on the effects of transverse bedrock ridges upon basal stress conditions. The pattern of the calculated ratio of basal drag and driving stress shows a rhythmical position of relatively high and low basal drags on the stoss and lee sides, respectively, of the bedrock thresholds. One of the zones of low basal drag corresponds to the location where the highest basal sliding rate has been measured previously by borehode deformation studies. This zone also aligns with the area where the drainage system is suggested to change from englacial to subglacial.
A one-dimensional numerical thermodynamic model is used to study the effects of strain heating on temperature profiles along the flowline of two outlet glaciers in Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica, flowing down a steep escarpment. Measurements of ice surface velocities on the glaciers show higher speeds than surface speeds calculated using Glen’s flow law. These calculations are based on ice-temperature distributions excluding strain heating in the general heat equation. The incorporation of strain heating in the general heat equation produces higher ice temperatures, and calculated ice surface speeds that are close to the measured values. It is found that relatively short-scale temporal and spatial steps in basal topography are enough to drive the ice flow into a positive feedback loop as long as the bedrock step produces a stress that overcomes the advection of cool ice from the surface. In this case, where surface temperatures are –25°C, stresses of 0.4 MPa are enough to drive the base of the ice to the melting point within 102 years.
How well can we estimate the incoming ice flux by calculating the ice flux through a well-defined cross-section? We test this by comparing calculated ice flux out from the small glacier Bonnevie-Svendsenbreen with the measured accumulation rate integrated over the well-defined catchment area in the Sivorgfjella plateau, Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica (74˚45’ S, 11˚10’ W). The ice flux is calculated using ice-dynamical properties from an ice temperature model and the distribution of forces calculated using a force-budget model. The input we use includes velocity data of the glacier surface, combined with ice-thickness measurements. The result is an accumulation rate on the Sivorgfjella plateau of 0.50 ± 0.05 mw.e. a–1. We find that this is similar to the accumulation rate recorded by ground-penetrating radar work in the area. We therefore find the balance-flow method, in combination with the force-budget technique and ice temperature modeling, to be a useful tool for studies of mass fluxes in a catchment area. The most important source of uncertainty in these calculations is the quality and the spatial distribution of the ice surface velocity data. The high accumulation rate shows the effect of orographic enhancement on accumulation in montane areas in Antarctica.
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