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THales - The Question How do glaciers modify the shape of...

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The Question: How do glaciers modify the shape of mountainous landscapes? Title: To what extent do glaciers aid in the evolution of a longitudinal profile of a mountainous landscape: A Case Study of the Ben Ohau Range; Southern Alps, New Zealand. Abstract: The transition from a V- shaped valley to a U- shaped valley requires a change from fluvial erosion to glacial erosion. This demands a change in climatic conditions; increased precipitation and cooler climates aid in the growth of glaciers and their accumulation. Topography of a mountain landscape created through glacial erosion is significantly different to fluvial environments. Fewer models exist for glacial erosion as they do for fluvial processes so understanding how these environments differ requires a comparison between basins of similar tectonic and climatic environments. Using a digital elevation model, hypsometry and hypsometric curves were calculated to analyse the difference in area-altitude distributions.. Mean elevations were compared in neighbouring basins in the Ben Ohau Range to observe the changes this would have in fluvial and glacial basins. Longitudinal profiles are extremely useful in clarifying the modifications created by glacial occupation and so were used to illustrate variations in fluvial and glacial erosions. In conclusion it was found that glacial erosion will have a significant impact on the modifications of a valley basin. Though the relationship between climate and tectonics will influence individual locations and need to be included in understanding the degree of glacial modifications. Abbreviations used: DeM: Digital Elevation Model ELA: Equilibrium Line Altitude Page 1 of 19
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TAS: Terrain Analysis System Introduction: Geomorphologists and climatologists have taken particular interest in glacial morphology due to the unique environments in which they are created and the landscapes they form. There are far reaching impacts when studying glaciers in understanding previous glacial and interglacial periods. Recent work carried out by Kirkbridge & Matthews, 1997; Brook et at 2006; Brocklehurst & Whipple 2004 pay particular interest in the progression of a mountain landscape from fluvial to glacial and the processes that are involved. Although much work has been done on landscape evolution models it has predominantly been focused on fluvial channels. Harbor (1992 ) and Harbor et al (1988) have looked at the evolution of a glacial valley and it was MacGregor et al (2000) that tackled the development of the longitudinal profile of a glacial valley by creating his own numerical model to form a link between ice flow and erosion. Glaciers they are still poorly understood with only limited numerical models being used for glacial erosion. This is evident in the findings of Harbor et al (1993), who, having read Hicks et al (1990), dismissed much of the work; creating his own more widely accepted model and theories. Much of the work regarding erosion requires an in depth understanding of the underlying sediments and of the amount that is yielded from beneath a glacier. Hallet et al (1996)
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