Flow Mechanism of Glaciers on Soft Beds

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Science  06 Jan 1995:
Vol. 267, Issue 5194, pp. 80-81
DOI: 10.1126/science.267.5194.80


Subhourly measurements of bed deformation, bed shear strength, subglacial water pressure, and surface speed at Storglaciären, a glacier in northern Sweden, showed that the shear-strain rates of the bed decrease during periods of high water pressure and surface speed. High water pressures appear to be accompanied by a reduction in the coupling of ice with the bed that is sufficient to reduce or eliminate shearing. The instability of large ice masses may result from similar decoupling rather than from pervasive bed deformation, as has been commonly thought.