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Short-term flow dynamics of a retreating tidewater glacier: LeConte Glacier, Alaska, U.S.A.

  • S. O’Neel (a1), K. A. Echelmeyer (a1) and R. J. Motyka (a1)

An analysis of motion in the terminus region of LeConte Glacier, Alaska, U.S.A., delineates mechanisms that are important to tidewater glacier stability. This glacier is undergoing rapid retreat. Since 1995 it has retreated 2 km and thinned >125 m at the present location of the terminus. Ice velocities in this region are quite high; at the terminus they exceed 27 m d−1. Our analysis reveals that fluctuations in speed and surface elevation are forced by ocean tides, surface melt and precipitation. The nearterminus ice speed is 180° out of phase with the tide, such that high tide corresponds to low speed. Smaller, melt-forced diurnal variations in speed are present throughout the lowermost 7 km. Speed-ups in excess of 10% of the mean often occur after rainstorms as a result of increased basal water pressure and storage, but the relation is not simple. The velocity does not vary over the spring and summer seasons.

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Journal of Glaciology
  • ISSN: 0022-1430
  • EISSN: 1727-5652
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-glaciology
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