Flowing Ice

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Glaciers are kind of bizarre. Despite being very solid, they still flow, sometimes on the order of a meter a day. This flow is driven by gravity and the incredible weight of the dense ice. Near the base of the glacier, the pressure is great enough to cause some localized melting. (Very high pressures actually decrease the melting point of water.) Glaciers also move through plastic deformation – this is the internal slippage Joe refers to in the video when he compares glaciers to a deck of cards. Despite their vast differences from typical fluid flows, glacial flows are often still described by the same equations of motion used in the rest of fluid dynamics! (Video credit: It’s Okay to Be Smart; via PBS Digital Studios)

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