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Basal mechanics of ice streams: Insights from the stick-slip motion of Whillans Ice Stream, West Antarctica


Winberry, JP and Anandakrishnan, S and Alley, RB and Bindschadler, RA and King, MA, Basal mechanics of ice streams: Insights from the stick-slip motion of Whillans Ice Stream, West Antarctica, Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 114, (F1) Article F01016. ISSN 0148-0227 (2009) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2009 American Geophysical Union

DOI: doi:10.1029/2008JF001035


The downstream portion of Whillans Ice Stream, West Antarctica, moves primarily by stick-slip motion. The observation of stick-slip motion suggests that the bed is governed by velocity-weakening physics and that the basal physics is more unstable than suggested by laboratory studies. The stick-slip cycle of Whillaňs Ice Plain exhibits substantial variability in both the duration of sticky periods and in slip magnitude. To understand this variability, we modeled the forces acting on the ice stream during the stick phase of the stick-slip cycle. The ocean tides introduce changes in the rate at which stress is applied to the ice plain. Increased loading rates promote earlier failure and vice versa. Results show that the bed of Whillans Ice Stream strengthens over time (healing) during the quiescent intervals in the stick-slip cycle, with the bed weakening during slip events. The time-dependent strengthening of the ice plain bed following termination of slip events indicates that the strength of the bed may vary by up to 0.35 kPa during the course of a single day. Copyright 2009 by the American Geophysical Union.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ice stream; laboratory method; ocean tide; stick-slip; time dependent behavior; Antarctica; West Antarctic Ice Sheet; West Antarctica; Whillans Ice Stream
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Physical geography and environmental geoscience
Research Field:Physical geography and environmental geoscience not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences
UTAS Author:King, MA (Professor Matt King)
ID Code:82109
Year Published:2009
Web of Science® Times Cited:74
Deposited By:Geography and Environmental Studies
Deposited On:2013-01-16
Last Modified:2013-04-10

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