Harbor, J. and Sharp, M. and Copland, L. and Hubbard, B. and Nienow, P. and Mair, D. (1997)
Influence of subglacial drainage conditions on the velocity distribution within a glacier cross section
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- Substrate properties and hydrological conditions at the base of Haut Glacier d'Arolla, Switzerland, are nonuniform. The thickness and grain size of subglacial sediment vary on length scales less than one ice thickness, whereas hydrological conditions vary seasonally and on length scales of about one ice thickness transverse to ice motion. There is a close relationship between the annually averaged velocity field and this nonuniformity of bed conditions. Basal motion dominates in an area with large water-level variations in boreholes, whereas ice deformation contributes significantly to total movement elsewhere. Localized enhanced basal motion occurs primarily in summer, especially during a July “spring event,” but this motion is barely discernible in annually averaged surface velocity measurements, because transverse coupling suppresses surface expression of the basal motion discontinuity. These results highlight the need to include representations of bed nonuniformity in models of glacier flow and to consider ice deformation and basal motion as interdependent processes.