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Based on the field data at Koryto glacier, Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia, we constructed a one-dimensional numerical glacier model which fits the behaviour of the glacier. The analysis of meteorological data from the nearby station suggests that the recent rapid retreat of the glacier since the mid-20th century is likely to be due to a decrease in winter precipitation. Using the geographical data of the glacier terminus variations from 1711 to 1930, we reconstructed the fluctuation in the equilibrium-line altitude by means of the glacier model. With summer temperatures inferred from tree-ring data, the model suggests that the winter precipitation from the mid-19th to the early 20th century was about 10% less than that at present. This trend is close to consistent with ice-core results from the nearby ice cap in the central Kamchatka Peninsula.
Glacier and lake variations in the Yamzhog Yumco basin in southern Tibet were studied by integrating series of spatial data from topographic maps and Landsat images at three different times: 1980, 1988/90 and 2000. The results indicate that the total glacier area has decreased from 218 km2 in 1980 to 215 km2 in 2000, a total reduction of 3 km2 (i.e. a 1.5% decrease). Glacier recession rates were clearly larger in the 1990s than the 1980s due to the warmer climate. The total lake area decreased by about 67 km2 during 1980–90 and increased by 32 km2 during 1990–2000. It is suggested that change of lake area in the basin was rapid and most likely caused primarily by the change in precipitation and evaporation in the basin, and secondarily by the increased water supply from melting glaciers.
To investigate short-term flow-pattern variations of a temperate glacier, longitudinal surface strain was measured with a wire strainmeter in the ablation area of Koryto glacier, Kamchatka, Russia. Strain-rate anomalies were observed in late summer 2000 that were triggered by a water overflow from a moulin near the measurement site followed by the drainage of accumulated water. The strain event started with (compressive) strain rates of >–10–3 d–1 lasting for 6 hours, which then became tensile. Similar strain-rate variations were observed again on the next day. During the event, basal sliding speed measured at the margin in the lower reach of the glacier fluctuated by about ±50% of the daily mean. Smaller and larger sliding speeds corresponded to the compressive and tensile surface strains, respectively. These measurements suggest that the storage and sudden drainage of water caused spatially non-uniform water-pressure fluctuations along the glacier, changing the sliding regime over short time periods.
We have developed a novel ice-penetrating radar system that can be carried on a backpack. Including batteries for a 3 hour continuous measurement, the total weight is 13 kg. In addition, it operates reliably down to –25°C, has a low power consumption of 24 W, and is semi-waterproof. The system has a built-in-one controller with a high-brightness display for reading data quickly, a receiver with 12-bit digitizing, and a 1 kV pulse transmitter in which the pulse amplitude varies by <0.2%. Optical communications between components provides low-noise data acquisition and allows synchronizing of the pulse transmission with sampling. Measurements with the system revealed the 300 m deep bed topography of a temperate valley glacier in the late ablation season.
To complement a technique to detect internal structures of seasonal snow covers and glacier firn with ground-penetrating radar (GPR), we carried out calibration experiments and an observation of winter snow cover (5.7m thick dry snow with numerous ice layers) with an 800 MHz GPR. In particular, we aimed to discriminate periodic noise, which is inherent in GPR, from radar echoes and to obtain a relationship between the observed reflection strength and the magnitude of density contrasts. Experiments were done in air to evaluate noise levels and receiver characteristics of this system. Based on these, we removed noise from radar echoes in the snow-cover observation. We recognized numerous marked echoes in a noise-free radargram. The depths of these echoes coincided roughly with those of large density contrasts observed in the snow pit. Thus, we argue that the echoes correspond to thin ice layers. Furthermore, the minimum density contrasts detected by this GPR are found to vary from about 100 to 250 kgm–3 at 1–6m depth in the seasonal snow cover.
The transition of inland to complex ice flow is investigated in the downstream area of Shirase Glacier catchment, East Antarctica. The 250 km long Mizuho Triangulation Chain (MTC; Naruse, 1978), 230 km upstream of the grounding line of Shirase Glacier, is re-analyzed by a force-balance analysis, in combination with balance-velocity estimates. Numerical model experiments were carried out with a two-dimensional thermomechanical higher-order ice-sheet model along a central flowline extending from the ice divide (Dome Fuji) to the grounding line of Shirase Glacier, passing through the MTC. Results show that complex flow originates near the MTC, where longitudinal normal stresses and normal drag in particular play a decisive role in the force balance. The fast-flow area, however, is geologically controlled and confined to the “bottleneck” or ice-flow convergence area, a few tens of kilometres upstream of the grounding line. In between the MTC and the grounding zone, longitudinal normal stress and basal sliding are dominant features of the ice-flow regime.
Ice-flow velocities were measured at Koryto glacier on Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia, during a 37 day period in the middle of the 2000 melt season. Six survey points from the upper to the lower reaches of the glacier exhibited daily fluctuations in surface horizontal speed with major peaks that appeared at all points.We argue that basal motion is the major cause of flow on Koryto glacier. Downward vertical velocities measured over most of the glacier during the survey period are likely due to shrinking of englacial and subglacial cavities. This result may imply that a large amount of water is deposited in the early summer. Since 1960, Koryto glacier has retreated by 450 m and this retreat has accelerated following a decrease in winter precipitation after the mid 1970s.The glacier has thinned by 10–50 m during the last 40 years.
Using vertical aerial photographs taken manually with a 6 × 6 cm format camera in 1984, 1986 and 1999, the surface morphology of the ablation area of Glaciar Soler, Hielo Patagónico Norte (northern Patagonia icefield), Chile, was studied. Glaciar Soler has an area of 50.9 km2; the ablation area below the icefall is about 7 km long and 2 km wide. An uncontrolled aerial-photographic mosaic for the area below the icefall was assembled from 40–60 aerial photographs, on which the surface morphology was mapped from interpretation of stereo pairs of the enlarged photographs (scales of 1:4500 to 1: 8000). Themapped features include debris-free and debris-covered ices, ogive bands and waves, crevasses, supraglacial streams, moulins, medial moraines, troughs and grooves. A total of 32–34 pairs of ogive bands were recognized, from which an average flow velocity of about 160 m a–1 was deduced. The spacing of a pair of light and dark ogive bands indicates that the flow velocity ranges from about 350 ma–1 near the icefall to some 100 ma–1 near the snout. Comparison of the field-measured data with the ogive spacing indicates that the seasonal variation in flow velocity of Glaciar Soler is very large, probably because of variation in the amount of basal sliding.
Debris-laden basal ice is exposed along an ice cliff near Hamna Glacier, Sôya Coast, East Antarctica. The basal ice is about 6.8 m thick and shows conspicuous stratigraphic features. The upper 5.5 m consists of alternating layers of bubble-free and bubbly ice. δ values of the bubble-free ice layers are enriched by 2.4 ±1.0‰ (standard deviation) for δ18O compared to values of neighboring bubbly ice layers above, and slopes of δ18O vs δD are close to 8. Such layers are suggested to have been formed by refreezing of meltwater in an open system. In contrast, part of the bubbly ice layers shows neutral profiles for stable isotopes, suggesting that these ice masses are undisturbed ice-sheet ice which was not affected by melting and freezing. The massive alternating layers are thus considered to have been formed by folding of refrozen and non-melted layers. The lower 1.3 m consists predominantly of bubble-free massive ice. The profile of co-isotopic values shows a change of about 3.0‰ for δ18O at the interface between bubble-free and bubbly ice. Since the isotopic change occurred over a wider thickness than the upper 5.5 m, the basal ice is suggested to have been formed by refreezing of meltwater on a larger scale than the upper 5.5 m.
Glaciar Upsala, a freshwater calving glacier in southern Patagonia, has been retreating since 1978, and after a drastic recession of about 700 m a−1 in 1994 the retreat seems to have stopped in 1995. A large ice-thinning rate of 11 m a−1 was obtained between 1990 and 1993, by surveying surface elevations near the terminus of Glaciar Upsala. In 1993–94, the thinning was estimated at about 20 m a−1 near the lateral margin. Some possible causes of the thinning behavior are considered.
In the ablation area of Glaciar Perito Moreno, 50 km south of Glaciar Upsala, ablation rates were measured during 110 d in summer 1993–94, and air temperature was continuously recorded throughout 1994. Using a degree-day method with temperature data at the nearest meteorological station, Calafate, annual ablation during the last 30 years was estimated to fluctuate from about 12 ± 2 to 16 ± 2 m a−1 in ice thickness, with a mean of 14 ± 2 m a−1. Thus, the temperature anomaly alone cannot elucidate the thinning of 11 m a−1 at Glaciar Upsala. As a possible mechanism of the ice-thinning, it is suggested that the considerable retreat due to calving may have resulted in reduction of longitudinal compressive stress exerted from bedrock rises and islands near the glacier front, causing a considerable decrease in the emergence flow. Thus, the ice may have thinned at a rate close to the annual ablation rate.
Frontal oscillations since the beginning of the 20th century are known at Glaciar Perito Moreno, an eastward outlet glacier of Hielo Patagónico Sur (southern Patagonia ice field). In 1900, the calving front was located about 1 km from the opposite bank. From 1935 to 1988, ruptures of ice-dams occurred at intervals of 1–5 years. Although this glacier has thus oscillated, it can be regarded as having been in a rather stable condition during the last half-century. Ice thickness in the ablation area has also remained unchanged from 1990 to 1996. The near-steady behavior of Glaciar Perito Moreno may be attributed to a regulating effect of the calving rate, namely, a decrease in the ablation amount due to calving with a retreat of the glacier.
Using 12 m long ablation poles, ice-flow velocities at the ablation area were measured several times in 1993 and 1994. The velocity in the early summer (November) was found to be slightly larger than the annual mean. It is concluded that basal sliding is significant throughout the year at this temperate glacier, with large fluctuations within a short period.
Large retreats were revealed for most glaciers in Patagonia, South America, by analyzing satellite images and air photographs. For example, Glaciar O’Higgins retreated 13 km during 41 years from 1945 to 1986 and Glaciar Upsala retreated about 3 km between 1968 and 1990. During the 41 years former period, however, the southern tongue of Glaciar Pio XI advanced by up to 8.5 km and Glaciar Moreno remained almost in a steady state. Considerable ice-thinning rates, from 3.0 to 11 ma−1, were measured by surveying surface profiles in the ablation areas of Tyndall and Upsala glaciers, respectively, during the period from 1985 (or 1990) to 1993. The ice thickness of Glaciar Moreno, however, has changed very little.
Numerical experiments using a simple mass-balance model show that a 100 m rise in the equilibrium-line altitude due to climatic change would result in about a 200–350 m rise in the frontal altitude at Glaciar Upsala corresponding to a retreat of 5–8 km, while it would cause only about a 70–100 m rise at Glaciar Moreno. The large difference between these two neighbouring glaciers results from the difference in contributions of the calving amount to the total mass balance, as well as the difference in the altitudinal distributions of drainage areas.
The air-bubble formation process has been studied experimentally by using five ice cores from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Bubble volumes in firn-ice samples were measured by a classical method based on Boyle Mariotte's law for an ideal gas. It was found that the bubble volume varies with depth as a function of bulk density in the firn-ice transition layer, which is represented by an exponential function of firn density. Air bubbles start to form rapidly at a bulk density of 0.763–0.797 Mg m-3. This density (ρib) seems to be correlated with the ice temperature in the ice sheets; ρib increases with a decrease in the ice temperature. Vb shows the maximum value in the density range 0.819–0.832 Mg m-3. The corresponding porosity of the density ranges between 0.110 and 0.097. This porosity does not seem to correlate with ice temperature or accumulation rate at the coring site. These characteristics of firn densities probably affect the amount of entrapped air in glacier ice (total air content) in polar ice sheets.
Short-term variations in ice-flow velocity were obtained at intervals of a few hours and a few days in the ablation area of Glaciar Soler, Patagonia, Chile, in November 1985. A maximum flow rate was measured at about four times the minimum value. A good correlation, with a time lag of 7.5 h, was found between the ice-flow velocity in the lower reaches and the amount of water discharge from the glacier terminus. It was concluded, therefore, that the velocity variations should have resulted from the variations in basal sliding velocity which is strongly controlled by the subglacial water pressure.
A linear relation between total gas content in ice and the elevation of ice formation (i.e. pore close-off) was obtained from seven shallow ice cores in Mizuho Plateau, Antarctica. The derived relation was applied to the vertical profile of total gas content in a 700 m long ice core at Mizuho Station. A general trend of gradual increase in total gas content was observed from 600 to 200 m in depth, from which toward the upper layer it showed a steep increase. After eliminating the effect of down-slope flow of ice around Mizuho Station, it was estimated that the thickness of the ice sheet decreased by about 350 m at maximum during the last 2000 years. This tendency also appears in the δ18O profile of the same ice core.
The Patagonian glaciers located in the southern part of the Andes between 46°30′S and 51°30′S are characterized by typical temperate conditions of heavy precipitation, rapid ice flows and high melting rates. During the austral summers of 1983–84 and 1985–86, field studies were made of the ice flow, heat balance and morphology of several glaciers in Patagonia. Coupled with aerial photographic surveys, these revealed that most glaciers had retreated extensively in the recent years, a maximum being 200 m a-1 at San Rafael Glacier from 1974 to 1986. The lower part of Soler Glacier had thinned by a rate of 5.2 m a-1 from 1983 to 1985.
This paper presents three possible mechanisms to explain the large variation of temperate glaciers during the last decade, based on analyses of mass balance and dynamics of Patagonian glaciers:
(1) The annual melting rate was estimated at about 10–15 m a-1 in water equivalent over the ablation area (from 350 to 1350 m a.s.l.) of Soler Glacier. Monthly mean air temperature in the coldest season (June through August) was estimated at about 0°–4°C near the termini of most glaciers in Patagonia. That temperature coincides with an air temperature which is critical for solid or liquid precipitation. The difference in the surface albedo, that is, 0.7–0.8 for new snow and 0.4–0.55 for bare ice (0.1–0.2 for debris-covered ice), results in different melting rates. Hence, a slight change in air temperature should cause an enhanced change in ice thickness by a positive feedback mechanism.
(2) The flow velocity was measured or estimated and was found to change daily and seasonally by factors of 3 to 5 at Soler Glacier. The large flow velocity variation was attributed to difference in the basal sliding velocity. Consequently, a change in the amount of subglacial water or the structure of the basal water system should cause a large change in the ice flow, which in turn results in a retreat or an advance of the glacier-like “mini-surge”.
(3) Frequent fluctuations of calving glaciers (e.g. San Rafael and Pio XI glaciers) have been much reported; however, information on the position of the grounding lines is very scarce. The advance or retreat of the glacier front may possibly have been affected by that of the floating terminus. The rate of calving from the ice tongue or spreading of ice shelves should mainly be controlled by the melting rate of ice in the water and by the mechanical properties of ice, and these factors are not directly related to climatic change or the surge phenomenon.
The horizontal divergence of drifting snow was estimated from the ice-sheet topography on Mizuho Plateau, East Antarctica. The calculation was made by using a relationship between the snow-drift transport rate and wind speed estimated from the surface slope. The divergence thus estimated for Mizuho Station (70°42′S, 44°20′E) was consistent with observations of surface net mass balance, precipitation and sublimation. Around the southern region of the Yamato Mountains, a large divergence was predicted and this is believed to be the principal cause of the bare ice field. Other factors in the formation and preservation of the bare-ice area are discussed.