Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Tidewater glacier surges initiated at the terminus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

DOI

Open Access permissions

Open

Author(s)

Heïdi Sevestre, Douglas I. Benn, Adrian Luckman, Christopher Nuth, Jack Kohler, Katrin Lindbäck, Rickard Pettersson

School/Research organisations

Abstract

There have been numerous reports that surges of tidewater glaciers in Svalbard were initiated at the terminus and propagated up‐glacier, in contrast with downglacier‐propagating surges of land‐terminating glaciers. Most of these surges were poorly documented, and the cause of this behavior was unknown. We present detailed data on the recent surges of two tidewater glaciers, Aavatsmarkbreen and Wahlenbergbreen in Svalbard. High‐resolution time‐series of glacier velocities and evolution of crevasse patterns show that both surges propagated up‐glacier in abrupt steps. Prior to the surges, both glaciers underwent retreat and steepening, and in the case of Aavatsmarkbreen, we demonstrate that this was accompanied by a large increase in driving stress in the terminal zone. The surges developed in response to two distinct processes. 1) During the late quiescent phase, internal thermodynamic processes and/or retreat from a pinning point caused acceleration of the glacier front, leading to the development of terminal crevasse fields. 2) Crevasses allowed surface melt‐ and rain‐water to access the bed, causing flow acceleration and development of new crevasses up‐glacier. Upward migration of the surge coincided with stepwise expansion of the crevasse field. Geometric changes near the terminus of these glaciers appear to have led to greater strain heating, water production and storage at the glacier bed. Water routing via crevasses likely plays an important role in the evolution of surges. The distinction between internally triggered surges and externally triggered speed‐ups may not be straightforward. The behavior of these glaciers can be understood in terms of the enthalpy cycle model.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface
VolumeIn press
Early online date26 Apr 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Apr 2018

    Research areas

  • Glaciers, Surges, Tidewater, Svalbard, Remote sensing, Dynamics

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Sensitivity of tidewater glaciers to submarine melting governed by plume locations

    Cowton, T., Todd, J. A. & Benn, D. I., 9 Sep 2019, (Accepted/In press) In : Geophysical Research Letters. In press

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Impact of warming shelf waters on ice mélange and terminus retreat at a large SE Greenland glacier

    Bevan, S., Luckman, A., Benn, D. I., Cowton, T. & Todd, J., 5 Sep 2019, In : The Cryosphere. 13, p. 2303-2315 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. A general theory of glacier surges

    Benn, D. I., Fowler, A., Hewitt, I. & Sevestre, H., 29 Aug 2019, In : Journal of Glaciology. First View, p. 1-16 16 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Sensitivity of a calving glacier to ice—ocean interactions under climate change: new insights from a 3-D full-Stokes model

    Todd, J., Christoffersen, P., Zwinger, T., Råback, P. & Benn, D. I., 14 Jun 2019, In : The Cryosphere. 13, 6, p. 1681-1694 14 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Automatic detection of calving events from time-lapse imagery at Tunabreen, Svalbard

    Vallot, D., Adinugroho, S., Strand, R., How, P., Pettersson, R., Benn, D. & Hulton, N. R. J., 29 Mar 2019, In : Geoscientific Instrumentation Methods and Data Systems. 8, 1, p. 113-127 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Physical conditions of fast glacier flow: 3. Seasonally-evolving ice deformation on Store Glacier, West Greenland

    Young, T. J., Christoffersen, P., Doyle, S. H., Nicholls, K. W., Stewart, C. L., Hubbard, B., Hubbard, A., Lok, L. B., Brennan, P., Benn, D. I., Luckman, A. & Bougamont, M., Jan 2019, In : Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface. 124, 1, p. 245-267 23 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. A full-Stokes 3D calving model applied to a large Greenlandic glacier

    Todd, J., Christoffersen, P., Zwinger, T., Råback, P., Chauché, N., Benn, D., Luckman, A., Ryan, J., Toberg, N., Slater, D. & Hubbard, A., 1 Mar 2018, In : Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface. 123, 3, p. 410-432 23 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Glacier calving rates due to subglacial discharge, fjord circulation, and free convection

    Schild, K. M., Renshaw, C. E., Benn, D. I., Luckman, A., Hawley, R. L., How, P., Trusel, L., Cottier, F. R., Pramanik, A. & Hulton, N. R. J., 15 Sep 2018, In : Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface. Early View, 16 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Ice and firn heterogeneity within Larsen C Ice Shelf from borehole optical televiewing

    Ashmore, D. W., Hubbard, B., Luckman, A., Kulessa, B., Bevan, S., Booth, A., Munneke, P. K., O'Leary, M., Sevestre, H. & Holland, P. R., May 2017, In : Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface. 122, 5, p. 1139-1153 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 252944993