Diurnal fluctuations in glacier ice deformation: Haut Glacier d'Arolla, Switzerland

Douglas Mair, Bryn Hubbard, Peter Nienow, Ian Willis, Urs H. Fischer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (SciVal)


Measurements of surface velocity, ice deformation (at 42 and 89% ice depth) and proglacial stream discharge were made at Haut Glacier d'Arolla, Switzerland, to determine diurnal patterns of variation in each. Data are analysed in order to understand better the relationship between hydraulically induced basal motion and glacier ice deformation over short timescales. The data suggest that hydraulically induced localized basal ‘slippery’ spots are created over diurnal cycles, causing enhanced basal motion and spatially variable glacier speed-up. Our data indicate that daily glacier speed-up is associated with reduced internal deformation over areas previously identified as slippery spots and increased deformation in areas located adjacent to or down-glacier from slippery spots. We interpret this pattern in terms of a transfer of mechanical support for basal shear stress away from slippery spots to adjacent sticky areas, where the resulting stronger ice–bed coupling causes increased ice deformation near the bed. These patterns indicate that basal ice is subjected to stress regimes that are variable at a high spatial and temporal resolution. Such variations may be central to the creation of anomalous vertical velocity profiles measured above and down-glacier of basal slippery zones, which have shown evidence for ‘plug flow’ and extrusion flow over annual timescales
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1272-1284
Number of pages13
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number8
Early online date01 Oct 2007
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2008


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