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Tidally controlled stick-slip discharge of a West Antarctic ice stream

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Matt King


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A major West Antarctic ice stream discharges by sudden and brief periods of very rapid motion paced by oceanic tidal oscillations of about 1 meter. Acceleration to speeds greater than 1 meter per hour and deceleration back to a stationary state occur in minutes or less. Slip propagates at approximately 88 meters per second, suggestive of a shear wave traveling within the subglacial till. A model of an episodically slipping friction-locked fault reproduces the observed quasi-periodic event timing, demonstrating an ice stream's ability to change speed rapidly and its extreme sensitivity to subglacial conditions and variations in sea level.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bindschadler RA, King MA, Alley RB, Anandakrishnan S, Padman L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Science

Year: 2003

Volume: 301

Issue: 5636

Pages: 1087-1089

ISSN (print): 0036-8075

ISSN (electronic): 1095-9203

Publisher: American Association for the Advancement of Science


DOI: 10.1126/science.1087231


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