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The physical basis of glacier volume-area scaling

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Author(s): David B. Bahr, Mark F. Meier, Scott D. Peckham

Document Type:
Publisher: Journal of Geophysical Research Solid Earth
Published Year: 1997
Volume: 102
Number: B9
Pages: 20355 to 20362
DOI Identifier: 10.1029/97JB01696
ISBN Identifier:

Ice volumes are known for only a few of the roughly 160,000 glaciers worldwide but are important components of many climate and sea level studies which require water flux estimates. A scaling analysis of the mass and momentum conservation equations shows that glacier volumes can be related by a power law to more easily observed glacier surface areas. The relationship requires four closure choices for the scaling behavior of glacier widths, slopes, side drag and mass balance. Reasonable closures predict a volume-area scaling exponent which is consistent with observations, giving a physical and practical basis for estimating ice volumes. Glacier volume is insensitive to perturbations in the mass balance scaling, but changes in average accumulation area ratios reflect significant changes in the scaling of both mass balance and ice volume.

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Suggested Citations:
In Text Citation:
Bahr and others (1997) or (Bahr et al., 1997)

References Citation:
Bahr, D.B., M.F. Meier, and S.D. Peckham, 1997, The physical basis of glacier volume-area scaling: Journal of Geophysical Research Solid Earth, Vol. 102, No. B9, pp. 20355-20362, doi: 10.1029/97JB01696.