Introduction

This chapter will explore the way in which the controls on glacier dynamic behaviour exerted by environmental conditions are mitigated by the characteristics of the glacier itself, focusing on the impact of ice-facies variability on stress response. We begin with an overview of the main environmental factors that affect glacier behaviour in order to contextualize the more focused discussion of ice facies and ice flow. In discussion, both in the introductory comments and in the more detailed analysis, we initially attempt to treat each variable or set of variables independently. In reality, many of the variables are strongly interdependent, and cause-and-effect relationships hard to isolate. The issue of causality also varies with scale of analysis, so that a variable that is an independent controlling variable at an individual glacier scale of analysis may become a dependent variable at another scale (Schumm & Lichty, 1965). The proportion of precipitation that falls as snow, for example, is an independent variable at the glacier scale, but a dependent variable at the mountain range scale. The scale of approach in this chapter is essentially that of understanding individual glacier behaviour, in keeping with the majority of glacio-logical analyses.

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