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Keywords:

  • Bylot Island;
  • Fountain Glacier;
  • proglacial icing;
  • glacial hydrology;
  • permafrost hydrology;
  • GPR

Abstract

Proglacial icings are one of the most common forms of extrusive ice found in the Canadian Arctic. However, the icing adjacent to Fountain Glacier, Bylot Island, is unique due to its annual cycle of growth and decay, and perennial existence without involving freezing point depression of water due to chemical characteristics. Its regeneration depends on the availability of subglacial water and on the balance between ice accretion and hydro-thermal erosion. The storage and conduction of the glacial meltwater involved in the accretion of the icing were analyzed by conducting topographic and ground penetrating radar surveys in addition to the modelling of the subglacial drainage network and the thermal characteristics of the glacier base. The reflection power analysis of the geophysical data shows that some areas of the lower ablation zone have a high accumulation of liquid water, particularly beneath the centre part of the glacier along the main supraglacial stream. A dielectric permittivity model of the glacier – sediment interface suggests that a considerable portion of the glacier is warm based; allowing water to flow through unfrozen subglacial sediments towards the proglacial outwash plain. All these glacier-related characteristics contribute to the annual regeneration of the proglacial icing and allow for portions of the icing to be perennial. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.