Glacier crevasses: Observations, models, and mass balance implications

William Colgan, Harihar Rajaram, Waleed Abdalati, Cheryl McCutchan, Ruth Mottram, Mahsa S. Moussavi, Shane Grigsby

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftArtikelForskningpeer review

94 Citationer (Scopus)


We review the findings of approximately 60 years of in situ and remote sensing studies of glacier crevasses, as well as the three broad classes of numerical models now employed to simulate crevasse fracture. The relatively new insight that mixed-mode fracture in local stress equilibrium, rather than downstream advection alone, can introduce nontrivial curvature to crevasse geometry may merit the reinterpretation of some key historical observation studies. In the past three decades, there have been tremendous advances in the spatial resolution of satellite imagery, as well as fully automated algorithms capable of tracking crevasse displacements between repeat images. Despite considerable advances in developing fully transient three-dimensional ice flow models over the past two decades, both the zero stress and linear elastic fracture mechanics crevasse models have remained fundamentally unchanged over this time. In the past decade, however, multidimensional and transient formulations of the continuum damage mechanics approach to simulating ice fracture have emerged. The combination of employing damage mechanics to represent slow upstream deterioration of ice strength and fracture mechanics to represent rapid failure at downstream termini holds promise for implementation in large-scale ice sheet models. Finally, given the broad interest in the sea level rise implications of recent and future cryospheric change, we provide a synthesis of 10 mechanisms by which crevasses can influence glacier mass balance.

Sider (fra-til)119-161
Antal sider43
TidsskriftReviews of Geophysics
Udgave nummer1
StatusUdgivet - mar. 2016
Udgivet eksterntJa


  • Programområde 5: Natur og klima


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