Flow dynamics of byrd glacier, East Antarctica

C. J.Der Van Veen, L. A. Stearns, J. Johnson, B. Csatho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Force-balance calculations on Byrd Glacier, East Antarctica, reveal large spatial variations in the along-flow component of driving stress with corresponding sticky spots that are stationary over time. On the large scale, flow resistance is partitioned between basal (∼80%) and lateral (∼20%) drag. Ice flow is due mostly to basal sliding and concentrated vertical shear in the basal ice layers, indicating the bed is at or close to the pressure-melting temperature. There is a significant component of driving stress in the across-flow direction resulting in nonzero basal drag in that direction. This is an unrealistic result and we propose that there are spatial variations of bed features resulting in small-scale flow disturbances. The grounding line of Byrd Glacier is located in a region where the bed slopes upward. Nevertheless, despite a 10% increase in ice discharge between December 2005 and February 2007, following drainage of two subglacial lakes in the catchment area, the position of the grounding line has not retreated significantly and the glacier has decelerated since then. During the speed-up event, partitioning of flow resistance did not change, suggesting the increase in velocity was caused by a temporary decrease in basal effective pressure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1053-1064
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Glaciology
Issue number224
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Antarctic glaciology
  • Glacier flow
  • Ice dynamics


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