Encyclopedia of Paleoclimatology and Ancient Environments

2009 Edition
| Editors: Vivien Gornitz

Basal Ice

  • Peter G. Knight
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4411-3_20

Basal ice is the ice close to the base of a glacier or ice sheet that has been affected by processes operating at the glacier bed (Hubbard and Sharp, 1989; Knight, 1997). Most of the ice in glaciers and ice sheets is formed by the accumulation of snow at the glacier surface, but basal ice is created, or substantially modified, by processes at the bed. Basal ice provides information about processes that operate in the inaccessible subglacial zone, it influences glacier dynamics, it contributes directly to glacier sedimentation, and it represents a barrier to the downward extension of the climate record to the bottom of deep ice cores. The presence of debris in the basal ice, and the processes by which it is entrained and released, are crucial to processes of glacial erosion and deposition. The basal layer is fundamental to realistically formulated models of ice sheet behavior and of the development of glacial landscapes.

Basal ice may be several tens of meters thick and comprises a...

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  1. Hubbard, B., and Sharp, M.J., 1989. Basal ice formation and deformation: A review. Prog. Phys. Geogr., 13, 529–558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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© Springer-Verlag 2009

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  • Peter G. Knight

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