Steady state

Alternative definitions (1), class: vernacular (0)
Term: Steady state
Definition: A state of the glacier in which over many years the thickness at the end of each mass-balance year remains unchanged, that is, dh/dt = 0 at every point; see equilibrium, Balanced-budget. It follows from the definition that the glacier-wide mass balance, including frontal ablation, is zero, because the glacier must flow at just the rate required to eliminate thickness changes due to the climatic-basal mass balance. Steady state is a valuable idealization, and may be realized roughly when the climate is constant, or changes only slowly, over periods considerably longer than the response time of the glacier.
Created 2022.03.08
Last Modified 2023.03.27
Contributed by GCW Glossary