PerspectiveGLACIOLOGY

How Ice Sheets Flow

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Science  14 Dec 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5550, pp. 2300-2301
DOI: 10.1126/science.1066730

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Summary

Melt waters at the bases of glaciers and ice sheets play an important role in their flow behavior. In her Perspective, Hulbe highlights the report by Fahnestock et al., who have identified high basal melting rates below a part of the Greenland Ice Sheet as the cause for fast ice sheet flow. They attribute the observation to higher than expected geothermal heat flow. But melt waters are not uniformly distributed underneath the ice. Many regions are frozen to the bedrock. Determining the conditions under which basal melting occurs is important for understanding ice sheet histories and predicting their future behaviors.