Chapter 16, Problem 5QR

### Fundamentals of Physical Geography

2nd Edition
James Petersen
ISBN: 9781133606536

Chapter
Section

### Fundamentals of Physical Geography

2nd Edition
James Petersen
ISBN: 9781133606536
Textbook Problem

# What are accumulation and ablation, and how are they related to glacial advance and retreat?

To determine

Accumulation and ablation, and the way they are related to glacial advance and retreat.

Explanation

From a perspective of mass balance, alpine glaciers consist of two functional zones. The upslope portion of a glacier is snowier and colder, where annual accumulation (input as in addition of snow in the form of precipitation) exceeds annual ablation (output, melting through evaporation and sublimation), is called as the zone of accumulation.

In contrast, the downslope portion of an alpine glacier is warmer, where annual ablation exceeds annual accumulation, is called as the zone of ablation. The boundary between the zones of accumulation and ablation on an alpine glacier is known as the equilibrium line; it marks the position across the width of the glacier at which annual accumulation equals annual ablation for the glacier.

Winter is the dominant accumulation season and summer is the dominant ablation season. The head of the glacier is located at the farthest upslope edge of alpine glacier at the upslope end of an accumulation zone. The glacier toe or terminus is located at the downslope end of the glacier.

To determine whether an alpine glacier is growing or shrinking over a period of years, the location of glacier toe is analyzed because the location of glacier toe changes throughout the year with accumulation and ablation...

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