The Cryosphere Discuss., 4, 2169-2199, 2010
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in TC.
Thermal structure and drainage system of a small valley glacier (Tellbreen, Svalbard), investigated by Ground Penetrating Radar
K. Bælum1 and D. I. Benn1,2
1Department of Geology, University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), Longyearbyen, Norway
2School of Geography and Geosciences, University of St. Andrews, UK

Abstract. Proglacial icings accumulate in front of many High Arctic glaciers during the winter months, as water escapes from englacial or subglacial storage. Such icings have been interpreted as evidence for warm-based subglacial conditions, but several are now known to occur in front of cold-based glaciers. In this study, we investigate the drainage system of Tellbreen, a 3.5 km long cold-based polythermal glacier in central Spitsbergen, where a large proglacial icing develops each winter, to determine the location and geometry of storage elements. DEMs of the glacier surface and bed were constructed using maps, differential GPS and GPR. Patterns of surface lowering indicate that the glacier has a long-term mass balance of −0.6 ± 0.2 m/year. Englacial and subglacial drainage channels were mapped using Ground penetrating radar (GPR), showing that Tellbreen has a diverse drainage system that is capable of storing, transporting and releasing water year round. In the upper part of the glacier, drainage is mainly via supraglacial channels. These transition downglacier into shallow englacial "cut and closure" channels, formed by the incision and closure of supraglacial channels. Below thin ice near the terminus, these channels reach the bed and contain stored water throughout the winter months. Even though the bed is below pressure-melting point, Tellbreen has a surface-fed, channelized subglacial drainage system, which allows significant storage and delayed discharge.

Citation: Bælum, K. and Benn, D. I.: Thermal structure and drainage system of a small valley glacier (Tellbreen, Svalbard), investigated by Ground Penetrating Radar, The Cryosphere Discuss., 4, 2169-2199, doi:10.5194/tcd-4-2169-2010, 2010.
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