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Glacier surge dynamics of Sortebrae, east Greenland, from synthetic aperture radar feature tracking

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Stuart Barr


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[1] We have measured the surface flow rate of the large east Greenland glacier, Sortebrae, through both the initiation and termination of a major surge using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) feature tracking, optimized to minimize error. The Sortebrae surge began between November and January 1992 - 1993, after at least 6 weeks of subfreezing temperatures over the whole glacier, and propagated rapidly up-glacier from a central nucleus. Sortebrae reached sustained fast flow rates of up to 24 m d(-1), and the active phase lasted for 28 - 32 months before terminating in June 1995. Termination was abrupt, coinciding with the arrival of the spring thaw and the apparent release of a large volume of stored water from a single outlet at the front. The surge mechanism is interpreted as a switch from channelized to distributed drainage, which at present is best explained by Kamb's linked cavity sliding model.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pritchard H, Murray T, Luckman A, Strozzi T, Barr SL

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface

Year: 2005

Volume: 110

Issue: F3

ISSN (print): 0148-0227

ISSN (electronic):


DOI: 10.1029/2004JF000233


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