Physical Conditions at the Base of a Fast Moving Antarctic Ice Stream

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Science  06 Apr 1990:
Vol. 248, Issue 4951, pp. 57-59
DOI: 10.1126/science.248.4951.57


Boreholes drilled to the bottom of ice stream B in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet reveal that the base of the ice stream is at the melting point and the basal water pressure is within about 1.6 bars of the ice overburden pressure. These conditions allow the rapid ice streaming motion to occur by basal sliding or by shear deformation of unconsolidated sediments that underlie the ice in a layer at least 2 meters thick. The mechanics of ice streaming plays a role in the response of the ice sheet to climatic change.

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