The impact of temperature and crystal orientation fabric on the dynamics of mountain glaciers and ice streams

Hruby, Kate; Gerbi, Christopher; Koons, Peter; Campbell, Seth; Martín, Carlos ORCID:; Hawley, Robert. 2020 The impact of temperature and crystal orientation fabric on the dynamics of mountain glaciers and ice streams. Journal of Glaciology, 66 (259). 755-765.

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© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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Streaming ice accounts for a major fraction of global ice flux, yet we cannot yet fully explain the dominant controls on its kinematics. In this contribution, we use an anisotropic full-Stokes thermomechanical flow solver to characterize how mechanical anisotropy and temperature distribution affect ice flux. For the ice stream and glacier geometries we explored, we found that the ice flux increases 1–3% per °C temperature increase in the margin. Glaciers and ice streams with crystallographic fabric oriented approximately normal to the shear plane increase by comparable amounts: an otherwise isotropic ice stream containing a concentrated transverse single maximum fabric in the margin flows 15% faster than the reference case. Fabric and temperature variations independently impact ice flux, with slightly nonlinear interactions. We find that realistic variations in temperature and crystallographic fabric both affect ice flux to similar degrees, with the exact effect a function of the local fabric and temperature distributions. Given this sensitivity, direct field-based measurements and models incorporating additional factors, such as water content and temporal evolution, are essential for explaining and predicting streaming ice dynamics.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0022-1430
Additional Keywords: Anisotropic ice flow; glacier flow; glaciological model experiments; ice rheology; ice streams
Date made live: 11 Aug 2020 08:42 +0 (UTC)

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