Physical glaciology of martian glacier-like forms

CfG staff: Bryn Hubbard; Alun Hubbard 

Key collaborators: University of Arizona, California Institute of Technology/Jet Propulsion Laboratory 

Figure 1‌Overview:
We have used satellite-based information (Figure 1) to identify, characterize and investigate the nature of mid-latitude glaciers on the planet Mars. Despite a great deal of research having been directed at Mars’ polar ice caps, until recently very little was known about the so-called glacier-like forms (GLFs) that are located throughout the planet’s mid-latitudes.

Our research, undertaken with partners based in the University of Arizona and Caltech, has focused on investigating mid-latitude GLFs on Mars through the application of the principles of terrestrial glaciology. We have (i) identified 1309 such GLFs and investigated their spatial distribution and morphometry, finding them to be exclusively located between the latitudes of 25 and 65° in both hemispheres, (ii) characterized their surface terrain types at high spatial resolution in order to reconstruct information relating to their formation, deformation and mass change, and (iii) interpreted in detail the former flow direction of a specific mid-latitude GLF with a bearing on the former glacial elevation limit in the region.

Continuing work focuses on reconstructing the mass balance and dynamics of martian GLFs, and on developing a computer model capable of mimicking their flow and climate response numerically.