Controls on Ice Cliff Distribution and Characteristics on Debris‐Covered Glaciers

Marin Kneib*, Catriona L. Fyffe, Evan S. Miles, Shayna Lindemann, Thomas E. Shaw, Pascal Buri, Michael McCarthy, Boris Ouvry, Andreas Vieli, Yota Sato, Philip D. A. Kraaijenbrink, Chuanxi Zhao, Peter Molnar, Francesca Pellicciotti

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Ice cliff distribution plays a major role in determining the melt of debris‐covered glaciers but its controls are largely unknown. We assembled a data set of 37,537 ice cliffs and determined their characteristics across 86 debris‐covered glaciers within High Mountain Asia (HMA). We find that 38.9% of the cliffs are stream‐influenced, 19.5% pond‐influenced and 19.7% are crevasse‐originated. Surface velocity is the main predictor of cliff distribution at both local and glacier scale, indicating its dependence on the dynamic state and hence evolution stage of debris‐covered glacier tongues. Supraglacial ponds contribute to maintaining cliffs in areas of thicker debris, but this is only possible if water accumulates at the surface. Overall, total cliff density decreases exponentially with debris thickness as soon as the debris layer reaches a thickness of over 10 cm.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022GL102444
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume50
Issue number6
Early online date24 Mar 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2023

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