The drainage pattern of Hansbreen and Werenskioldbreen, two polythermal glaciers in Svalbard

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Pälli, Anja ; Moore, John C. ; Jania, Jacek ; Kolondra, Leszek ; Glowacki, Piotr (2003)

To improve our understanding of Svalbard-type polythermal glacier drainage, hydraulic geometry models of the subglacial hydrology of two contrasting glaciers in Svalbard have been constructed. The models are tested against a uniquely long and rich set of field observations spanning 45 years. Digital elevation models (DEMs) were constructed from bedrock data measured with ground penetrating radar and surface data of two medium-sized polythermal glaciers, Hansbreen and Werenskioldbreen, in south-west Spitsbergen. Hansbreen has a low angle bed with over-deepenings and a calving front, while Werenskioldbreen has steeper bed and terminates on land. Together they are representative of many Svalbard glaciers. The DEMs were used to derive maps of hydraulic potential and subglacial drainage networks. Validation of the models was done using field observations including location mapping and speleological exploration of active moulins, positions of main river outflows, dyetracing and water chemistry studies, and observations of water pressure inside moulins. Results suggest that the water pressure is generally close to ice overburden pressure but varies greatly depending on local conditions such as bed location, the thickness of cold ice layer, the thickness of the glacier and seasonal changes in meltwater input.
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