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Introduction: Global climate change has thrust receding glaciers into the public eye, but little is known about the dynamics of water storage and conveyance on these massive rivers of ice. Meltwater runs fast and cold on the surface of an ice sheet. Slippery conditions, unstable banks, water temperatures of just 0.5 to 1.0 degree Celsius and velocities of up to three meters per second over nearly frictionless bottoms make glacial streams a dangerous work environment. So does the fact that many glacial streams are abruptly swallowed by seemingly bottomless crevasses, creating powerful hydraulics on even low-gradient streams. These are not like temperate, terrestrial rivers. That’s why first-hand measurements of how they work are vital to understanding how glaciers melt.
Special thanks to Dr. Carl J. Legleiter and Brandon T. Overstreet for taking and providing all photos associated with this application note.