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  Information - CR17 Subglacial environments of glaciers and ice sheets

Event Information
Subglacial environments represent one of the last physical frontiers of glaciological research. They form both unique ecological habitats and key components in the dynamic behaviour of glaciers and ice sheets. These environments, however, are inaccessible and often complex, being characterized by precise mass and energy transfers between the ice and its substrate of water, air, bedrock, or sediment. In particular, the presence of water at the ice mass bed is increasingly recognised as a key environmental condition. For example, a growing number of remote sensing and ground-based observations across Antarctica and Greenland are highlighting the existence of subglacial water in a variety of forms, ranging from vast subglacial lakes (providing distinctive habitats for potentially unique life forms) to mm-thick water flows at the ice-substrate interface. These hydrological phenomena have great potential to impact on ice dynamics; from the scale of valley glaciers to large ice sheets - feeding back into the response of ice masses to climate change and their consequent contributions to changes in sea level. Characterizing basal environments quantitatively, however, remains an outstanding glaciological problem, as does scaling that knowledge for use in models of ice mass motion.

We solicit scientific contributions that include, but are not limited to, measurements and/or modelling of: (i) water flows at the ice-mass bed and through subglacial sediments; (ii) feedbacks between ice-mass hydrology and ice dynamics, and the impact of that relationship on ice-mass response to climate change; (iii) theoretical-, field-, or laboratory-based parameterization of basal processes in numerical ice-flow models; (iv) formation, geometry and potential linkages between subglacial lakes; (v) subglacial lake drainage and meltwater outbursts from ice-mass margins; and (vi) geomorphological evidence of subglacial water flows from contemporary ice-sheet margins and across formerly glaciated continental-scale regions.

Preliminary List of Solicited Speakers
Donald Blankenship, U Texas
Andrew Shepherd, U Edinburgh
Slawek, Tulaczyk, UC Santa Cruz
Frank Pattyn, UL Brussels


General Statement
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