Introduction

A report card on the progress of glacial studies over the past 40 yr or so might read 'encouraging progress, but surprisingly large gaps in knowledge remain'. There has been a host of activity in a number of disciplines studying glaciers and many important discoveries that have changed the way we view the world. However, we still cannot tell a politician whether global warming will lead to continuous warming or plunge us into a new Ice Age, or whether or not it will cause the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to disappear. We are equally uncertain about the role of glaciers on other planets and moons in our solar system.

To practitioners that cut their teeth in the 1960s the overriding concern at the time was the lack of communication between glaci-ologists, with their stress on theory, and field geomorphologists/ geologists with their focus on description and evolution. Paterson laid down the challenge to fieldworkers with his famous quote that 'a mere handful of mathematical physicists, who may seldom set foot on a glacier, have contributed far more to the understanding of the subject than have a hundred measurers of ablation stakes or recorders of advances and retreats of glacier termini.' (Paterson, 1969, p. 4). Clarke (1987c) encapsulated the problem when he compared the changing fortunes of papers published in the Journal of Glaciology that contained only equations with those relying on maps. After decades of separation, he was able to identify the first paper with both! The danger of separation was the underlying rationale for the writing of Glaciers and Landscape (Sugden & John, 1976), as could be seen if a reader used the index to look up 'intrepid fieldworker' or 'armchair theorist'. The problems of separation were obvious to all. Strange glacio-logical processes were invoked to explain landforms, the historical Davisian paradigm dominated field interpretations with the cycle, corrie glaciers-ice sheet-corrie glaciers, seen as an agent of landscape denudation (Linton, 1963), while theoreticians lacked a body of quantitative empirical data with which to constrain theories.

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