Nienow, P.W. and Sharp, M. and Willis, I. (1996)
Velocity-discharge relationships derived from dye-tracer experiments in glacial meltwaters: implications for subglacial flow conditions
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- Hydrological Processes
- Repeated dye tracer tests were undertaken from individual moulins at Haut Glacier d'Arolla, Switzerland, over a number of diurnal discharge cycles during the summers of 1989–1991. It was hoped to use the concepts of at-a-station hydraulic geometry to infer flow conditions in subglacial channels from the form of the velocity–discharge relationships derived from these tests. The results, however, displayed both clockwise and anticlockwise velocity–discharge hysteresis, in addition to the simple power function relationship assumed in the hydraulic geometry approach.
Clockwise hysteresis seems to indicate that a moulin drains into a small tributary channel rather than directly into an arterial channel, and that discharges in the two channels vary out of phase with each other. Anticlockwise hysteresis is accompanied by strong diurnal variations in the value of dispersivity derived from the dye breakthrough curve, and is best explained by hydraulic damming of moulins or sub/englacial passageways.
Despite the complex velocity–discharge relationships observed, some indication of subglacial flow conditions may be obtained if tributary channels comprise only a small fraction of the drainage path and power function velocity–discharge relationships are derived from dye injections conducted during periods when the supraglacial discharge entering the moulin and the bulk discharge vary in phase. Analyses based on this premise suggest that both open and closed channel flow occur beneath Haut Glacier d'Arolla, and that flow conditions are highly variable at and between sites.