How Fast Do Glaciers Erode? New Research to Help Identify Safe Sites for Nuclear Waste Storage


New insights into rates of bedrock erosion by glaciers around the world will help to identify better sites for the safe storage of nuclear waste, according to researchers.

A new analysis of global glacier erosion rates and flow speeds by scientists at the University of Sheffield, University of Dundee and Keele University has overturned previous findings about the link between glacial flow and erosion rates.

Published in Nature Communications today (6 February 2020), the findings confirm the importance of glacier flow speed in determining the rate of glacial erosion. But in an unexpected result, the scientists show that the increase in erosion rate with glacier flow speed occurs much more slowly than previously thought.

Dr Darrel Swift, a member of the Energy Institute at the University of Sheffield, said: “As glaciers flow downhill, they slide over the bedrock beneath, causing the bedrock to be eroded. This analysis shows that a glacier that flows twice as fast as its neighbour does not necessarily produce twice the rate of bedrock erosion.

Continue reading at University of Sheffield

Image via University of Sheffield