Basal buoyancy and fast-moving glaciers: in defense of analytic force balance
Abstract. The geometric approach to force balance advocated by T. Hughes in a series of publications has challenged the analytic approach by implying that the latter does not adequately account for basal buoyancy on ice streams, thereby neglecting the contribution to the gravitational driving force associated with this basal buoyancy. Application of the geometric approach to Byrd Glacier, Antarctica, yields physically unrealistic results, and it is argued that this is because of a key limiting assumption in the geometric approach. A more traditional analytic treatment of force balance shows that basal buoyancy does not affect the balance of forces on ice streams, except locally perhaps, through bridging effects.