Why study glaciers

Before delving into the mathematical intricacies with which much of this book is concerned, one might well ask why we are pursuing this topic - glacier mechanics For many who would like to understand how glaciers move, how they sculpt the landscape, how they respond to climatic change, mathematics does not come easily. I assure you that all of us have to think carefully about the meaning of the expressions that seem so simple to write out but so difficult to understand. Only then do they become...

Summary

We began this chapter by deriving the energy balance equation. Given boundary conditions appropriate for a polar ice sheet, solutions to this equation yield the temperature distribution in the ice sheet. The boundary conditions most commonly used are (1) the temperature at the surface, which is approximated by the mean annual temperature, perhaps with a correction for heating by percolating melt water and (2) the temperature gradient at the bed. The latter is based on estimates of the...

Deformation of subglacial till

We have known for decades that ice moving over granular subglacial materials can deform these materials. (Herein, the term granular material should be understood to include materials with significant amounts of clay, although a distinction between granular materials and clays is usually made in the soil mechanics literature.) Commonly, the granular material is till, either formed by erosion during the present glacial cycle, or left from a previous one. Recently it has become clear that a large...

The upper part of the englacial hydraulic system

Veins and the initial development of passages Nye and Frank (1973) argued that veins should be present along boundaries where three ice crystals meet, and that at four-grain intersections these veins should join to form a network of capillary-sized tubes through which water can move. They thus concluded that temperate ice should be permeable. Such capillary passages have been observed in ice cores obtained from depths of up to 60 m on Blue Glacier, Washington (Figure 8.1a) (Raymond and...