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A macroscopic approach to glacier dynamics

Journal of Glaciology

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Abstract

A simple approach to glacier dynamics is explored in which there is postulated to be a relationship between area and volume with three parameters: the time for area to respond to changes in volume, a thickness scale, and an area characterizing the condition of the initial state. This approach gives a good fit to the measurements of cumulative balance and area on South Cascade Glacier from 1970-97; the area time-scale is roughly 8 years, the thickness scale about 123 m, and the 1970 area roughly 4% larger than required for adjustment with volume. Combining this relationship with a version of mass continuity expressed in terms of area and volume produces a theory of glacier area and volume response to climate in which another time constant, the volume time-scale, appears. Area and volume both respond like a damped spring and mass system. The damping of the South Cascade response is approximately critical, and the volume time-scale is roughly 48 years, six times the area time-scale. The critically damped spring and mass analogy reproduces the time dependence predicted by the more complicated traditional theory of Nye.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
A macroscopic approach to glacier dynamics
Series title:
Journal of Glaciology
Volume
49
Issue:
164
Year Published:
2003
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Journal of Glaciology
First page:
13
Last page:
21
Number of Pages:
9