The Physics of Glaciers


  • Kurt Cuffey, Dept of Earth & Planetary Science/Dept of Geography, University of California, Berkeley, USA
  • W. S. B. Paterson, Emeritus, University of Copenhagen, Australian Antarctic Division, and Canadian Polar Continental Shelf Project

The Physics of Glaciers, Fourth Edition, discusses the physical principles that underlie the behavior and characteristics of glaciers. The term glacier refers to all bodies of ice created by the accumulation of snowfall, e.g., mountain glaciers, ice caps, continental ice sheets, and ice shelves. Glaciology-the study of all forms of ice-is an interdisciplinary field encompassing physics, geology, atmospheric science, mathematics, and others. This book covers various aspects of glacier studies, including the transformation of snow to ice, grain-scale structures and ice deformation, mass exchange processes, glacial hydrology, glacier flow, and the impact of climate change. The present edition features two new chapters: “Ice Sheets and the Earth System” and “Ice, Sea Level, and Contemporary Climate Change.” The chapter on ice core studies has been updated from the previous version with new material. The materials on the flow of mountain glaciers, ice sheets, ice streams, and ice shelves have been combined into a single chapter entitled “The Flow of Ice Masses.”
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Graduate students and academic and professional researchers in the fields of glaciology, climatology, geophysics and geology.


Book information

  • Published: May 2010
  • ISBN: 978-0-12-369461-4


"In the preface to the first edition of The Physics of Glaciers, published in 1969, Stan Paterson made note of the impressive observational and theoretical advances that had taken place during the preceding two decades and set the stage for his efforts to summarize the state of the field. The pace of data collection has continued to accelerate with the development of an impressive array of new tools and techniques and the added incentive of current concerns over the response and role of glaciers and ice sheets in a warming climate. Now we arrive at the fourth edition, a collaborative effort by Paterson and Kurt Cuffey to provide an updated assessment of glacier physics and related topics. The result is a major achievement, involving a comprehensive rewriting and reorganization of the material contained in earlier editions, and including a significant amount of new material that will be appreciated by both old and new audiences."--Pure and Applied Geophysics
"The interested reader will find much else to enjoy in this book. For example, by using square brackets for grouping, and curved parentheses for arguments of functions, the equations are easier to read than typical. The appendix on stress and strain will be a favorite of students in classes extending far beyond glaciology. In short, The Physics of Glaciers by Cuffey and Paterson is at once instructive and authoritative, a textbook and a reference source. It is a towering intellectual achievement that, quite simply, defines the science of glaciers. Modern students may not be as easily impressed as I was three decades ago, but I expect that in addition to bragging about talking to ‘the W.S.B. Paterson’, students will be celebrating meeting ‘the K.M. Cuffey’ for a long time to come."--Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 57, No. 202, 2011, page 383

Table of Contents

Preface to Fourth EditionPreface to First EditionChapter 1 Introduction 1.1 Introduction 1.2 History and Perspective 1.3 Organization of the Book Further ReadingChapter 2 Transformation of Snow to Ice 2.1 Introduction 2.2 Snow, Firn, and Ice 2.2.1 Density of Ice 2.3 Zones in a Glacier 2.3.1 Distribution of Zones 2.4 Variation of Density with Depth in Firn 2.5 Snow to Ice Transformation in a Dry-snow Zone 2.5.1 Processes 2.5.2 Models of Density Profiles in Dry Firn 2.5.3 Reduction of Gas Mobility 2.6 Hoar Layers 2.7 Transformation When Meltwater Is Present Further ReadingChapter 3 Grain-Scale Structures and Deformation of Ice 3.1 Introduction 3.2 Properties of a Single Ice Crystal 3.2.1 Structure 3.2.2 Deformation of a Single Crystal 3.3 Polycrystalline Ice: Grain-scale Forms and Processes 3.3.1 Orientation Fabrics: Brief Description 3.3.2 Impurities and Bubbles 3.3.3 Texture and Recrystallization 3.3.4 Formation of C-axis Orientation Fabrics 3.3.5 Mechanisms of Polycrystalline Deformation 3.4 Bulk Creep Properties of Polycrystalline Ice 3.4.1 Strain Rate and Incompressibility 3.4.2 Deviatoric Stress 3.4.3 Bench-top Experiments: The Three Phases of Creep 3.4.4 Isotropic Creep Behavior 3.4.5 Controls on Creep Parameter A 3.4.6 Recommended Isotropic Creep Relation and Values for A 3.4.7 Anisotropic Creep of Ice 3.5 Elastic Deformation of Polycrystalline Ice Appendix 3.1 Appendix 3.2: Data for Figure 3.16Chapter 4 Mass Balance Processes: 1. Overview and Regimes 4.1 Introduction 4.1.1 Notes on Terminology 4.2 Surface Mass Balance 4.2.1 Surface Accumulation Processes 4.2.2 Surface Ablation Processes 4.2.3 Annual (Net) Balance and the Seasonal Cycle 4.2.4 Annual Glacier Balance and Average Specific Balances 4.2.5 Variation of Surface Balance with Altitude 4.2.6 Generalized Relation of Surface Balance to Temperature and Precipitation 4.2.7 Relation of Glacier-wide Balance to the Area-Altitude Distribution 4.3 Mass Balance Variations of Mountain Glaciers 4.3.1 Interannual Fluctuations of Balance 4.3.2 Cumulative Balance and Delayed Adjustments 4.3.3 Regional Variations of Mass Balance 4.4 Englacial Mass Balance 4.4.1 Internal Accumulation 4.4.2 Internal Ablation 4.5 Basal Mass Balance 4.5.1 Basal Accumulation 4.5.2 Basal Ablation 4.6 Mass Loss by Calving 4.6.1 The Calving Spectrum 4.6.2 Calving from Tidewater Glaciers 4.6.3 Calving from Ice Shelves 4.6.4 Calving Relations for Ice Sheet Models 4.7 Methods for Determining Glacier Mass Balance 4.8 Mass Balance Regimes of the Ice Sheets 4.8.1 Greenland Ice Sheet 4.8.2 Antarctic Ice Sheet Further ReadingChapter 5 Mass Balance Processes: 2. Surface Ablation and Energy Budget 5.1 Introduction 5.1.1 Radiation 5.1.2 Energy Budget of Earth’s Atmosphere and Surface 5.2 Statement of the Surface Energy Budget 5.2.1 Driving and Responding Factors in the Energy Budget 5.2.2 Melt and Warming Driven by Net Energy Flux 5.3 Components of the Net Energy Flux 5.3.1 Downward Shortwave Radiation 5.3.2 Reflected Shortwave Radiation 5.3.3 Longwave Radiation 5.3.4 Field Example, Net Radiation Budget 5.3.5 Subsurface Conduction and Radiation 5.3.6 Turbulent Fluxes 5.4 Relation of Ablation to Climate 5.4.1 Calculating Melt from Energy Budget Measurements 5.4.2 Simple Approaches to Modelling Melt 5.4.3 Increase of Ablation with Warming 5.4.4 Importance of the Frequency of Different Weather Conditions v5.4.5 Energy Budget Regimes Further ReadingChapter 6 Glacial Hydrology 6.1 Introduction 6.1.1 Permeability of Glacier Ice 6.1.2 Effective Pressure 6.2 Features of the Hydrologic System 6.2.1 Surface (Supraglacial) Hydrology 6.2.2 Englacial Hydrology 6.2.3 Subglacial Hydrology 6.2.4 Runoff from Glaciers 6.3 The Water System within Temperate Glaciers 6.3.1 Direction of Flow 6.3.2 Drainage in Conduits 6.3.3 Drainage in Linked Cavities 6.3.4 Subglacial Drainage on a Soft Bed 6.3.5 Summary of Water Systems at the Glacier Bed 6.3.6 System Behavior 6.4 Glacial Hydrological Phenomena 6.4.1 Jökulhlaups 6.4.2 Antarctic Subglacial Lakes Further ReadingChapter 7 Basal Slip 7.1 Introduction 7.1.1 Measurements of Basal Velocity 7.1.2 Local vs. Global Control of Basal Velocity 7.2 Hard Beds 7.2.1 Weertman’s Theory of Sliding 7.2.2 Observations at the Glacier Sole 7.2.3 Improvements to Weertman’s Analysis 7.2.4 Discussion of Assumptions 7.2.5 Comparison of Predictions with Observations 7.2.6 How Water Changes Sliding Velocity on Hard Beds 7.2.7 Sliding of Debris-laden Ice 7.2.8 Sliding at Sub-Freezing Temperatures 7.2.9 Hard-bed Sliding: Summary and Outlook 7.3 Deformable Beds 7.3.1 Key Observations 7.3.2 Till Properties and Processes 7.3.3 Constitutive Behaviors 7.3.4 Slip Rate ub on a Deformable Bed 7.3.5 Large-scale Behavior of Soft Beds 7.3.6 Continuity of Till 7.3.7 Additional Geological Information 7.4 Practical Relations for Basal Slip and Drag Further ReadingChapter 8 The Flow of Ice Masses 8.1 Introduction 8.1.1 Ice Flux 8.1.2 Balance Velocities 8.1.3 Actual Velocities 8.1.4 How Surface Velocities Are Measured 8.2 Driving and Resisting Stresses 8.2.1 Driving Stress and Basal Shear Stress 8.2.2 Additional Resisting Forces and the Force Balance 8.2.3 Factors Controlling Resistance and Flow 8.2.4 Effective Driving Force of a Vertical Cliff 8.3 Vertical Profiles of Flow 8.3.1 Parallel Flow 8.3.2 Observed Complications in Shear Profiles 8.4 Fundamental Properties of Extending and Compressing Flows 8.4.1 General Concepts 8.4.2 Uniform Extension or Compression 8.5 General Governing Relations 8.5.1 Local Stress-equilibrium Relations 8.5.2 General Solutions for Stress and Velocity 8.5.3 Vertically Integrated Force Balance 8.5.4 General Mass Conservation Relation (Equation of Continuity) 8.5.5 Vertically Integrated Continuity Equations 8.6 Effects of Valley Walls and Shear Margins 8.6.1 Transverse Velocity Profile Where Basal Resistance Is Small 8.6.2 Combined Effects of Side and Basal Resistances 8.7 Variations Along a Flow Line 8.7.1 Factors Controlling Longitudinal Strain Rate 8.7.2 Local-scale Variation: Longitudinal Stress-gradient Coupling 8.7.3 Large-Scale Variation 8.8 Flow at Tidewater Margins 8.8.1 Theory 8.8.2 Observations: Columbia Glacier 8.9 Ice Sheets: Flow Components 8.9.1 Flow at a Divide 8.9.2 Ice Streams 8.9.3 Ice Shelves 8.9.4 Transition Zone Between Grounded and Floating Ice 8.9.5 Flow Over Subglacial Lakes 8.10 Surface Profiles of Ice Sheets 8.10.1 Profile Equations 8.10.2 Other Factors Influencing Profiles 8.10.3 Relation Between Ice Area and Volume 8.10.4 Travel Times 8.10.5 Local-scale Relation of Surface and Bed Topography Further ReadingChapter 9 Temperatures in Ice Masses 9.1 Introduction 9.2 Thermal Parameters of Ice and Snow 9.3 Temperature of Surface Layers 9.4 Temperate Glaciers 9.4.1 Ice Temperature 9.4.2 Origin and Effect of Water 9.4.3 Distribution of Temperate Glaciers 9.5 Steady-state Temperature Distributions 9.5.1 Steady-state Vertical Temperature Profile 9.6 Measured Temperature Profiles 9.7 General Equation of Heat Transfer 9.7.1 Derivation of Equation 9.7.2 Boundary and Basal Conditions 9.8 Temperatures Along a Flow Line 9.8.1 Observations 9.9 Time-varying Temperatures 9.10 Temperatures in Ice ShelvesChapter 10 Large-Scale Structures 10.1 Introduction 10.2 Sedimentary Layers 10.3 Foliation 10.3.1 Elongate Bubble Forms 10.3.2 Finite Strain 10.4 Folds 10.4.1 Folding in Central Regions of Ice Sheets 10.5 Boudinage 10.6 Faults 10.7 Implications for Ice Core Stratigraphy 10.8 Ogives and Longitudinal Corrugations 10.9 Crevasses 10.9.1 Patterns and Conditions for Occurrence 10.9.2 Crevasse Depth and Propagation 10.9.3 Related Tensional Features 10.10 Structural Assemblages Further ReadingChapter 11 Reaction of Glaciers to Environmental Changes 11.1 Introduction 11.2 Reaction to Changes of Mass Balance: Scales 11.2.1 Net Change of Glacier Length 11.2.2 Simple Models for Response 11.2.3 Simple Models for Different Zones 11.3 Reaction to Changes of Mass Balance: Dynamics 11.3.1 Theoretical Framework 11.3.2 Ice Thickness Changes 11.3.3 Relative Importance of Diffusion and Kinematic Waves 11.3.4 Numerical Models of Glacier Variation 11.4 Reactions to Additional Forcings 11.4.1 Response of Glaciers to Ice and Bed Changes 11.4.2 Factors Influencing the Reaction of an Ice Sheet to the End of an Ice Age 11.4.3 Ice Flow Increased by Water Input 11.5 Changes at a Marine Margin 11.5.1 Conceptual Framework 11.5.2 The Tidewater Glacier Cycle 11.5.3 Interactions of Ice Shelves and Inland Ice 11.5.4 Forcing by Sea-level Rise Further ReadingChapter 12 Glacier Surges 12.1 Introduction 12.2 Characteristics of Surging Glaciers 12.2.1 Spatial Distribution and Relation to Geological Setting 12.2.2 Distribution in Time 12.2.3 Temperature Characteristics 12.2.4 Characteristics of Form and Velocity 12.3 Detailed Observations of Surges 12.3.1 Surges of Temperate Glaciers 12.3.2 The Role of Water: Variegated Glacier 12.3.3 Surges Where the Bed Is Partly Frozen 12.3.4 Surges of Polythermal Tidewater Glaciers 12.4 Surge Mechanisms 12.4.1 General Evidence Relevant to the Mechanism 12.4.2 The Mechanism for Temperate Glaciers 12.4.3 Polythermal Glaciers 12.5 Surging of Ice Sheets? 12.6 Ice AvalanchesChapter 13 Ice Sheets and the Earth System 13.1 Introduction 13.2 Interaction of Ice Sheets with the Earth System 13.2.1 Processes Driving Ice Sheet Change 13.2.2 Feedback Processes 13.3 Growth and Decay of Quaternary Ice Sheets 13.3.1 Relation to Milankovitch Forcings 13.3.2 Climate Forcings at the LGM 13.3.3 Onset of Quaternary Cycles 13.3.4 Heinrich Events 13.4 Ice Sheet Evolution Models 13.4.1 Model Components 13.4.2 Model Calibration 13.4.3 Simulations of Quaternary Ice Sheets Further ReadingChapter 14 Ice, Sea Level, and Contemporary Climate Change 14.1 Introduction 14.1.1 Equivalent Sea Level 14.1.2 Recent Climate and Sea-level Change 14.2 Global Warming and Mountain Glaciers 14.2.1 History of Glacier Lengths 14.2.2 Worldwide Mass Balance of Mountain Glaciers and Small Ice Caps 14.2.3 Sea-level Forecasts: Mountain Glaciers and Small Ice Caps 14.3 The Ice Sheets and Global Warming 14.3.1 Greenland 14.3.2 Antarctica 14.3.3 Model Forecasts of Ice Sheet Contributions to Sea-level Change 14.3.4 Simple Approaches to Forecasts for the Century Ahead 14.4 Summary 14.4.1 Recent Sea-level Rise 14.4.2 The Twentieth Century 14.4.3 This CenturyChapter 15 Ice Core Studies 15.1 Introduction 15.1.1 Some Essential Terms and Concepts 15.1.2 Delta Notation 15.2 Relation Between Depth and Age 15.2.1 Theoretical Relations 15.2.2 Determination of Ages 15.2.3 Difference of Gas and Ice Ages 15.3 Fractionation of Gases in Polar Firn 15.4 Total Air Content 15.5 Stable Isotopes of Ice 15.5.1 Conceptual Model 15.5.2 Interpretation of Records 15.6 Additional Techniques of Temperature Reconstruction 15.6.1 Borehole Temperatures 15.6.2 Melt Layers 15.6.3 Thermal and Gravitational Fractionation of Gases 15.7 Estimation of Past Accumulation Rates 15.8 Greenhouse Gas Records 15.8.1 Histories of Atmospheric Concentration 15.8.2 Isotopic Compositions of Greenhouse Gases 15.9 Gas Indicators of Global Parameters 15.9.1 Global Mean Ocean Temperature 15.9.2 Global Biological Productivity 15.10 Particulate and Soluble Impurities 15.10.1 Electrical Conductivity Measurement (ECM) 15.10.2 Primary Aerosols 15.10.3 Secondary Aerosols 15.11 Examples of Multiparameter Records from Ice Sheets 15.11.1 Deglacial Climate Change 15.11.2 A Long Record of Climate Cycling 15.12 Low-latitude Ice Cores 15.13 Surface Exposures in Ablation Zones Further ReadingAppendix: A Primer on Stress and StrainIndex