Department of Geosciences and Earth and Mineral Sciences EESI The Pennsylvania State University University Park PA 16802 USA

72.1 Introduction

The practice of glaciology often seems to receive less notice than does theorizing. However, a strong case can be made that our ability to observe what is happening is the most important factor in making glaciological progress, and at least is an indispensable adjunct to theory. We lack first-principles ways to learn the resistance of ice to deformation, the thickness of ice, the flow velocity, etc. We can explain measured values once they are supplied, but any physical framework must be made real using empirically determined quantities.

Furthermore, amazing progress is being made in observational techniques. Although the modern theory of glacial flow is recognizably related to the pioneering postulates of Nye, Weertman and Kamb from several decades ago, satellite-based measurements using global positioning systems (GPS), synthetic aperture radar (SAR) interferometry or laser altimetry (see the papers by Bamber and Joughin, this volume, Chapters 73 & 74) are almost unrecognizably removed from the pressure-altimetry that mapped the Antarctic ice sheet during the early traversing days.

72.2 Some challenges in practicing glaciology

The strong papers in Part 5 review the field well, so we will use our space to speculate on further advancements in the practice of glaciology—What are we now missing? What new developments might advance our field greatly? The topics discussed here are a little idiosyncratic, weighted towards things we work on (or wish we did!).

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