Seasonal variations in ice deformation and basal motion, Haut Glacier d'Arolla, Switzerland

I. Willis, Douglas Watson Fraser Mair, B. Hubbard, U. H. Fischer, P. Nienow, A. Hubbard

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25 Citations (Scopus)


Records of surface motion, englacial tilt and repeat inclinometry are used to determine patterns of surface, internal and basal motion across the tongue of Haut Glacier d'Arolla, Switzerland, over temporal scales ranging from days to months. Findings are interpreted with reference to contemporaneous measurements of subglacial water pressures, and prior knowledge of the glacier's subglacial drainage-system structure. Long-term inclinometry results show pronounced extrusion flow over a subglacial drainage axis, with basal velocities up to twice those measured at the glacier surface. Deformation profiles are more conventional away from the drainage axis, with basal velocities similar to60-70% of surface velocities. Comparison of long-term tilt rates from repeat inclinometry and englacial tilt-meters shows close correspondence. Englacial tiltmeter data are used to reconstruct internal velocity profiles and to split surface velocities into internal deformation and basal motion contributions over spring, summer and autumn/winter periods. Although, spatial patterns of surface movement are similar between periods, patterns of internal and basal motion are not. Results are interpreted in terms of the location of sticky and slippery spots, with temporally changing patterns of basal drag reflecting changing distributions of water pressure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-167
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Glaciology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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