Melting and transport | Crash Course Cryosphere #7 | Summary and Q&A

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July 19, 2017
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Simon Clark
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Melting and transport | Crash Course Cryosphere #7

TL;DR

Learn about the intricate process of how water moves within glaciers and the effects of climate change on glaciers.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How does water enter a glacier?

Water enters a glacier through holes in its surface, such as Fern, channels, or lakes.

Q: Can water flow uphill in a glacier?

Yes, water can flow uphill in a glacier due to the modification of hydraulic potential by the weight of the ice above.

Q: How quickly can lakes on a glacier appear and drain?

Lakes on a glacier can form rapidly due to high energy flux, such as sunny weather, and can drain quickly as fractures open up and channels are formed.

Q: Why is the rapid connection of channels in glaciers important?

The rapid connection of channels in glaciers allows water to be delivered to the bed quickly, which is a key factor in glacial flow and the response of glaciers to climate change.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Most of the water in a glacial system comes from surface melt and rainfall, which both contribute to the energy and water balance of the glacier.

  • Water can move on the surface of a glacier through Fern (consolidated snow), channels, and lakes, with channels and lakes having the ability to form and disappear rapidly.

  • Inside the glacier, water can flow through englacial channels formed by surface channels, hydraulic exploitation of pre-existing crevasses, and the exploitation of permobil structures. These channels can also close rapidly due to ice overburden pressure, lack of flow, or sediment backfilling.

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