Articles | Volume 9, issue 4
Earth Surf. Dynam., 9, 845–859, 2021
Earth Surf. Dynam., 9, 845–859, 2021

Research article 02 Aug 2021

Research article | 02 Aug 2021

Climatic controls on mountain glacier basal thermal regimes dictate spatial patterns of glacial erosion

Jingtao Lai and Alison M. Anders

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Physical: Geomorphology (including all aspects of fluvial, coastal, aeolian, hillslope and glacial geomorphology)
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Cited articles

Anders, A. M., Mitchell, S. G., and Tomkin, J. H.: Cirques, peaks, and precipitation patterns in the Swiss Alps: Connections among climate, glacial erosion, and topography, Geology, 38, 239–242,, 2010. 
Anderson, R. S., Molnar, P., and Kessler, M. A.: Features of glacial valley profiles simply explained, J. Geophys. Res., 111, F01004,, 2006. 
Anderson, R. S., Dühnforth, M., Colgan, W., and Anderson, L.: Far-flung moraines: Exploring the feedback of glacial erosion on the evolution of glacier length, Geomorphology, 179, 269–285,, 2012. 
Aschwanden, A., Bueler, E., Khroulev, C., and Blatter, H.: An enthalpy formulation for glaciers and ice sheets, J. Glaciol., 58, 441–457,, 2012. 
Aschwanden, A., Fahnestock, M. A., and Truffer, M.: Complex Greenland outlet glacier flow captured, Nat. Commun., 7, 1–8,, 2016. 
Short summary
Glaciers are strong erosive agents, and they have created many unique landforms in mountain belts. Climate has been viewed as a primary control on glacial erosion, yet our understanding of the mechanism by which climate impacts glacial erosion remains limited. Using computer simulations, we find that climate controls glacial erosion by modulating the temperature of the basal ice. Our results suggest that a warm and/or wet climate can create warm basal ice and, therefore, enhance erosion.