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Glacier hydromechanics: early insights and the lasting legacy of three works by Iken and colleagues

  • Gwenn E. Flowers (a1)

The association between basal hydrology and glacier sliding has become nearly synonymous with the early work of Almut Iken and colleagues. Their research published in the Journal of Glaciology from 1981 to 1986 made an indelible impact on the study of glacier hydromechanics by documenting strong correlations between basal water pressure and short-term ice-flow variations. With a passion for elucidating the physics of glacier-bed processes, Iken herself made fundamental contributions to our theoretical and empirical understanding of the sliding process. From the theoretical bound on basal shear stress, to the inferences drawn from detailed horizontal and vertical velocity measurements, the work of Iken and colleagues continues to inform the interpretation of data from alpine glaciers and has found increasing relevance to observations from the ice sheets.

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