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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-174
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-174
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  18 Sep 2019

18 Sep 2019

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This preprint has been withdrawn by the authors.

Debris cover and the thinning of Kennicott Glacier, Alaska, Part A:in situ mass balance measurements

Leif S. Anderson1,2, Robert S. Anderson1, Pascal Buri3, and William H. Armstrong1,4 Leif S. Anderson et al.
  • 1Department of Geological Sciences and Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado Campus Box 450, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
  • 2GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
  • 3Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska-Fairbanks, 2156 Koyukuk Drive, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA
  • 4Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Appalachian State University,033 Rankin Science West, ASU Box32067, Boone, NC 28608-2067, USA

Abstract. The mass balance of many Alaskan glaciers is perturbed by debris cover. Yet the effect of debris on glacier response to climate change in Alaska has largely been overlooked. In three companion papers we assess the role of debris, ice dynamics, and surface processes in thinning Kennicott Glacier. In Part A, we report in situ measurements from the glacier surface. In Part B, we develop a method to delineate ice cliffs using high-resolution imagery and produce distributed mass balance estimates. In Part C we explore feedbacks that contribute to glacier thinning.

Here in Part A, we describe data collected in the summer of 2011. We measured debris thickness (109 locations), sub-debris melt (74), and ice cliff backwasting (60) data from the debris-covered tongue. We also measured air-temperature (3 locations) and internal-debris temperature (10). The mean debris thermal conductivity was 1.06 W (m C)−1, increasing non-linearly with debris thickness. Mean debris thicknesses increase toward the terminus and margin where surface velocities are low. Despite the relatively high air temperatures above thick debris, the melt-insulating effect of debris dominates. Sub-debris melt rates ranged from 6.5 cm d−1 where debris is thin to 1.25 cm d−1 where debris is thick near the terminus. Ice cliff backwasting rates varied from 3 to 14 cm d−1 with a mean of 7.1 cm d−1 and tended to increase as elevation declined and debris thickness increased. Ice cliff backwasting rates are similar to those measured on debris-covered glaciers in High Mountain Asia and the Alps.

This preprint has been withdrawn.

Leif S. Anderson et al.

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Leif S. Anderson et al.

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Short summary
Thick rock cover (or debris) disturbs the melt of many Alaskan glaciers. Yet the effect of debris on glacier thinning in Alaska has been overlooked. In three companion papers we assess the role of debris and ice flow on the thinning of Kennicott Glacier. In Part A, we report measurements from the glacier surface. We measured surface debris thickness, melt under debris, and the rate of ice cliff backwasting. These data allow for further studies linking debris to glacier shrinkage in Alaska.
Thick rock cover (or debris) disturbs the melt of many Alaskan glaciers. Yet the effect of...
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