Glacial Systems and Mass Balance

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  • Created by: darcie_cl
  • Created on: 25-02-14 12:40
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  • Glacial systems and mass balance
      • When ice is sufficiently thick (50m+), ice will flow downhill due to gravity
      • The glacier will also loose mass through melting
      • Hence glaciers can be seen as a system with inputs, outputs, stores, transfers and outputs
      • Accumulation = mass gained from snowfall onto the glacier surface
      • Ablation = mass lost due to warm air or applied pressure causing evaporation or wind errosion
      • Equilibrium line = the boundary where accumulation equals ablation
      • Snow line = lowest altitude that snow reaches (where snow stops)
      • Glacial budget = amount of mass (snow and ice) lost from the glacier
      • The gains and losses of ice by a glacier = its mass balance/glacial budget
      • Accumulation > ablation = positive balance (glacier gains mass)
        • Position of snout will increase
      • Accumulation < ablation = negative balance (glacier looses mass)
        • Position of snout will recede
      • Accumulation = ablation = zero balance (glacier remains stationary)


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