The measurement of ice velocity, mass balance and thinning-rate on Johnsons Glacier, Livingston Island, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica

L. XIMENIS, JAUME CALVET I PORTA, J. ENRIQUE, J. CORBERA, C. FERNÁNDEZ DE GAMBOA, G. FURDADA

Abstract


A network of twenty stakes was set up on Johnsons Glacier in order to determine its dynamics. During the austral summers from 1994-95 to 1997-98, we estimated surface velocities, mass balances and ice thickness variations. Horizontal velocity increased down-stream from 1 m a-1 near the ice divides to 40 m a-1 near the ice terminus. The accumulation zone showed low accumulation rates (maximum of 0,6 m a-1(ice)), whereas in the lower part of the glacier, ablation rates were 4,3 m a-1(ice). Over the 3-year study period, both in the accumulation and ablation zones, we detected a reduction in the ice surface level ranging from 2 to 10 m from the annual vertical velocities and ice-thinning data, the mass balance was obtained and compared with the mass balance field values, resulting in similar estimates. Flux values were calculated using cross-section data and horizontal velocities, and compared with the results obtained by means of mass balance and ice thinning data using the continuity equation. The two methods gave similar results.

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