Glaciers, like rivers, have a branching structure which can be characterized by topological trees or networks. Probability distributions of various topological quantities in the networks are shown to satisfy the criterion for self-similarity, a symmetry structure which might be used to simplify future models of glacier dynamics. Two analytical methods of describing river networks, Shreve's random topology model and deterministic self-similar trees, are applied to the six glaciers of south central Alaska studied in this analysis. Self-similar trees capture the topological behavior observed for all of the glaciers, and most of the networks are also reasonably approximated by Shreve's theory. Copyright 1996 by the American Geophysical Union.
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Observations and analysis of self-similar branching topology in glacier networks