Subglacial hydrology, sediment transport, pressure, and temperature have been studied beneath approximately 160 m of ice at Sondhusbreen, an outlet glacier from Folgefonni in south-western Norway.
The volume of the mean annual water discharge passing through the study area is about 60x106 m3. Most of this water is diverted into a tunnel system in the rock beneath the glacier and used for hydroelectric power generation. At the beginning of the melt season, this water flows in multiple small channels, but later it collects in one or two main channels. The discharge of eroded material is about 7 600 tonnes a−1. Of this, roughly 90% is transported by running water.
Pressure gauges and thermistors were installed at two sites under the glacier. Results from one of the sites indicated that ice can stagnate in some leeward positions, as almost no ice movement was recorded during most of the period of measurement and the pressure distribution was nearly hydrostatic. However, increased water pressure during the summer apparently resulted in the opening of subglacial cavities, adding a local up-glacier component to the flow at this site.
At another location, about 20 m up-glacier, non-hydrostatic differential pressures of up to 30 bar were recorded across an artificial dome-shaped obstacle. The flow at this location was more steady, in general, but rather dramatic effects were recorded when a boulder 0.3 m3 in size passed over the obstacle, destroying one of the pressure sensors. This sensor recorded a pressure of 90 bar before failing. The boulder was moving at a speed of about 40 mm d-1, whereas the sliding velocity of the ice was 80 mm d-1. Temperature measurements suggest that the difference in temperature across this obstacle was less than 0.03 deg, or an order of magnitude less than expected. This may mean that water was squeezed out of the ice on the stoss side of the obstacle as suggested by Robin (1976), and thus was not available to warm the lee-side ice by refreezing.