Evolution of drainage system morphology at a land-terminating Greenland outlet glacier

Tom Cowton, Peter Nienow, Andrew Sole, Jemma Wadham, Greg Lis, Ian Bartholomew, Douglas Watson Fraser Mair, David Chandler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

64 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The influence of meltwater on the dynamics and geomorphic impact of the Greenland Ice Sheet is strongly controlled by the morphology of the ice sheet's drainage system. However this system, and its evolution through the melt season, remains poorly understood. Here we present the results of an intensive programme of dye tracing experiments undertaken along the lower 14 km of a land-terminating Greenland outlet glacier over a period of four months during the 2010 melt season. These data are interpreted in conjunction with observations of proglacial discharge, englacial water storage, surface melt rates and ice velocity to produce a detailed picture of the changing hydrology of the glacier. Following the onset of melt in the spring, inputs to the drainage system regularly exceed outputs, causing the englacial water level to rise to the ice sheet surface. During this time there is a rapid transition from distributed to channelized drainage in those parts of the drainage system closed by ice deformation over winter. As the melt season progresses, channel efficiency increases and englacial storage and ice velocity decrease. High velocity events continue to be observed following the channelization of the drainage system however, indicating that hydrological forcing of ice velocity occurs despite the existence of channels during periods when meltwater inputs exceed the capacity of the subglacial drainage system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-41
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface
Volume118
Issue number1
Early online date25 Jan 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013

Fingerprint

Glaciers
glaciers
Greenland
drainage systems
Ice
outlets
drainage
stopping
Drainage
glacier
ice
melt
ice sheet
meltwater
snowmelt
channelization
water storage
hydrology
dye
Hydrology

Keywords

  • Glacial hydrology
  • Greenland Ice Sheet
  • dye tracing

Cite this

Cowton, T., Nienow, P., Sole, A., Wadham, J., Lis, G., Bartholomew, I., ... Chandler, D. (2013). Evolution of drainage system morphology at a land-terminating Greenland outlet glacier. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 118(1), 29-41. https://doi.org/10.1029/2012JF002540

Evolution of drainage system morphology at a land-terminating Greenland outlet glacier. / Cowton, Tom; Nienow, Peter; Sole, Andrew; Wadham, Jemma; Lis, Greg; Bartholomew, Ian; Mair, Douglas Watson Fraser; Chandler, David.

In: Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, Vol. 118, No. 1, 03.2013, p. 29-41.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Cowton, T, Nienow, P, Sole, A, Wadham, J, Lis, G, Bartholomew, I, Mair, DWF & Chandler, D 2013, 'Evolution of drainage system morphology at a land-terminating Greenland outlet glacier', Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, vol. 118, no. 1, pp. 29-41. https://doi.org/10.1029/2012JF002540
Cowton, Tom ; Nienow, Peter ; Sole, Andrew ; Wadham, Jemma ; Lis, Greg ; Bartholomew, Ian ; Mair, Douglas Watson Fraser ; Chandler, David. / Evolution of drainage system morphology at a land-terminating Greenland outlet glacier. In: Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface. 2013 ; Vol. 118, No. 1. pp. 29-41.
@article{cdc19165995c4943afe9b71d06fa8d98,
title = "Evolution of drainage system morphology at a land-terminating Greenland outlet glacier",
abstract = "The influence of meltwater on the dynamics and geomorphic impact of the Greenland Ice Sheet is strongly controlled by the morphology of the ice sheet's drainage system. However this system, and its evolution through the melt season, remains poorly understood. Here we present the results of an intensive programme of dye tracing experiments undertaken along the lower 14 km of a land-terminating Greenland outlet glacier over a period of four months during the 2010 melt season. These data are interpreted in conjunction with observations of proglacial discharge, englacial water storage, surface melt rates and ice velocity to produce a detailed picture of the changing hydrology of the glacier. Following the onset of melt in the spring, inputs to the drainage system regularly exceed outputs, causing the englacial water level to rise to the ice sheet surface. During this time there is a rapid transition from distributed to channelized drainage in those parts of the drainage system closed by ice deformation over winter. As the melt season progresses, channel efficiency increases and englacial storage and ice velocity decrease. High velocity events continue to be observed following the channelization of the drainage system however, indicating that hydrological forcing of ice velocity occurs despite the existence of channels during periods when meltwater inputs exceed the capacity of the subglacial drainage system.",
keywords = "Glacial hydrology, Greenland Ice Sheet, dye tracing",
author = "Tom Cowton and Peter Nienow and Andrew Sole and Jemma Wadham and Greg Lis and Ian Bartholomew and Mair, {Douglas Watson Fraser} and David Chandler",
note = "This work was funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (through grants to Nienow, Mair, and Wadham, and a studentship to Bartholomew), the Edinburgh University Moss Centenary Scholarship (Cowton and Bartholomew), and a Carnegie Research Grant (Nienow). We thank Ian Willis, Tim Bartholomaus and an anonymous referee for valuable comments which significantly improved the manuscript.",
year = "2013",
month = "3",
doi = "10.1029/2012JF002540",
language = "English",
volume = "118",
pages = "29--41",
journal = "Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface",
issn = "2169-9003",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Evolution of drainage system morphology at a land-terminating Greenland outlet glacier

AU - Cowton, Tom

AU - Nienow, Peter

AU - Sole, Andrew

AU - Wadham, Jemma

AU - Lis, Greg

AU - Bartholomew, Ian

AU - Mair, Douglas Watson Fraser

AU - Chandler, David

N1 - This work was funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (through grants to Nienow, Mair, and Wadham, and a studentship to Bartholomew), the Edinburgh University Moss Centenary Scholarship (Cowton and Bartholomew), and a Carnegie Research Grant (Nienow). We thank Ian Willis, Tim Bartholomaus and an anonymous referee for valuable comments which significantly improved the manuscript.

PY - 2013/3

Y1 - 2013/3

N2 - The influence of meltwater on the dynamics and geomorphic impact of the Greenland Ice Sheet is strongly controlled by the morphology of the ice sheet's drainage system. However this system, and its evolution through the melt season, remains poorly understood. Here we present the results of an intensive programme of dye tracing experiments undertaken along the lower 14 km of a land-terminating Greenland outlet glacier over a period of four months during the 2010 melt season. These data are interpreted in conjunction with observations of proglacial discharge, englacial water storage, surface melt rates and ice velocity to produce a detailed picture of the changing hydrology of the glacier. Following the onset of melt in the spring, inputs to the drainage system regularly exceed outputs, causing the englacial water level to rise to the ice sheet surface. During this time there is a rapid transition from distributed to channelized drainage in those parts of the drainage system closed by ice deformation over winter. As the melt season progresses, channel efficiency increases and englacial storage and ice velocity decrease. High velocity events continue to be observed following the channelization of the drainage system however, indicating that hydrological forcing of ice velocity occurs despite the existence of channels during periods when meltwater inputs exceed the capacity of the subglacial drainage system.

AB - The influence of meltwater on the dynamics and geomorphic impact of the Greenland Ice Sheet is strongly controlled by the morphology of the ice sheet's drainage system. However this system, and its evolution through the melt season, remains poorly understood. Here we present the results of an intensive programme of dye tracing experiments undertaken along the lower 14 km of a land-terminating Greenland outlet glacier over a period of four months during the 2010 melt season. These data are interpreted in conjunction with observations of proglacial discharge, englacial water storage, surface melt rates and ice velocity to produce a detailed picture of the changing hydrology of the glacier. Following the onset of melt in the spring, inputs to the drainage system regularly exceed outputs, causing the englacial water level to rise to the ice sheet surface. During this time there is a rapid transition from distributed to channelized drainage in those parts of the drainage system closed by ice deformation over winter. As the melt season progresses, channel efficiency increases and englacial storage and ice velocity decrease. High velocity events continue to be observed following the channelization of the drainage system however, indicating that hydrological forcing of ice velocity occurs despite the existence of channels during periods when meltwater inputs exceed the capacity of the subglacial drainage system.

KW - Glacial hydrology

KW - Greenland Ice Sheet

KW - dye tracing

U2 - 10.1029/2012JF002540

DO - 10.1029/2012JF002540

M3 - Article

VL - 118

SP - 29

EP - 41

JO - Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface

JF - Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface

SN - 2169-9003

IS - 1

ER -