Seasonal evolution of subglacial drainage and acceleration in a Greenland outlet glacier

Ian Bartholomew, Peter Nienow, Douglas Mair, Alun Hubbard, Matt A. King, Andrew Sole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

229 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Greenland ice sheet contains enough water to raise sea levels by 7¿m. However, its present mass balance and future contribution to sea level rise is poorly understood1. Accelerated mass loss has been observed near the ice sheet margin, partly as a result of faster ice motion2, 3, 4. Surface melt waters can reach the base of the ice sheet and enhance basal ice motion5, 6. However, the response of ice motion to seasonal variations in meltwater supply is poorly constrained both in space and time. Here we present ice motion data obtained with global positioning system receivers located along a ~35¿km transect at the western margin of the Greenland ice sheet throughout a summer melt season. Our measurements reveal substantial increases in ice velocity during summer, up to 220% above winter background values. These speed-up events migrate up the glacier over the course of the summer. The relationship between melt and ice motion varies both at each site throughout the melt season and between sites. We suggest that these patterns can be explained by the seasonal evolution of the subglacial drainage system similar to hydraulic forcing mechanisms for ice dynamics that have been observed at smaller glaciers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-411
Number of pages4
JournalNature Geoscience
Volume3
Issue number6
Early online date9 May 2010
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010

Fingerprint

glacier
drainage
ice
ice sheet
melt
meltwater
summer
basal ice
mass balance
GPS
transect
seasonal variation
sea level
hydraulics
surface water
winter
water

Cite this

Bartholomew, I., Nienow, P., Mair, D., Hubbard, A., King, M. A., & Sole, A. (2010). Seasonal evolution of subglacial drainage and acceleration in a Greenland outlet glacier. Nature Geoscience, 3(6), 408-411. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo863

Seasonal evolution of subglacial drainage and acceleration in a Greenland outlet glacier. / Bartholomew, Ian; Nienow, Peter; Mair, Douglas; Hubbard, Alun; King, Matt A. ; Sole, Andrew.

In: Nature Geoscience, Vol. 3, No. 6, 06.2010, p. 408-411.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Bartholomew, I, Nienow, P, Mair, D, Hubbard, A, King, MA & Sole, A 2010, 'Seasonal evolution of subglacial drainage and acceleration in a Greenland outlet glacier', Nature Geoscience, vol. 3, no. 6, pp. 408-411. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo863
Bartholomew, Ian ; Nienow, Peter ; Mair, Douglas ; Hubbard, Alun ; King, Matt A. ; Sole, Andrew. / Seasonal evolution of subglacial drainage and acceleration in a Greenland outlet glacier. In: Nature Geoscience. 2010 ; Vol. 3, No. 6. pp. 408-411.
@article{800be709408843cab1f32b8f4208386b,
title = "Seasonal evolution of subglacial drainage and acceleration in a Greenland outlet glacier",
abstract = "The Greenland ice sheet contains enough water to raise sea levels by 7¿m. However, its present mass balance and future contribution to sea level rise is poorly understood1. Accelerated mass loss has been observed near the ice sheet margin, partly as a result of faster ice motion2, 3, 4. Surface melt waters can reach the base of the ice sheet and enhance basal ice motion5, 6. However, the response of ice motion to seasonal variations in meltwater supply is poorly constrained both in space and time. Here we present ice motion data obtained with global positioning system receivers located along a ~35¿km transect at the western margin of the Greenland ice sheet throughout a summer melt season. Our measurements reveal substantial increases in ice velocity during summer, up to 220{\%} above winter background values. These speed-up events migrate up the glacier over the course of the summer. The relationship between melt and ice motion varies both at each site throughout the melt season and between sites. We suggest that these patterns can be explained by the seasonal evolution of the subglacial drainage system similar to hydraulic forcing mechanisms for ice dynamics that have been observed at smaller glaciers.",
author = "Ian Bartholomew and Peter Nienow and Douglas Mair and Alun Hubbard and King, {Matt A.} and Andrew Sole",
year = "2010",
month = "6",
doi = "10.1038/ngeo863",
language = "English",
volume = "3",
pages = "408--411",
journal = "Nature Geoscience",
issn = "1752-0894",
publisher = "Nature Publishing Group",
number = "6",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Seasonal evolution of subglacial drainage and acceleration in a Greenland outlet glacier

AU - Bartholomew, Ian

AU - Nienow, Peter

AU - Mair, Douglas

AU - Hubbard, Alun

AU - King, Matt A.

AU - Sole, Andrew

PY - 2010/6

Y1 - 2010/6

N2 - The Greenland ice sheet contains enough water to raise sea levels by 7¿m. However, its present mass balance and future contribution to sea level rise is poorly understood1. Accelerated mass loss has been observed near the ice sheet margin, partly as a result of faster ice motion2, 3, 4. Surface melt waters can reach the base of the ice sheet and enhance basal ice motion5, 6. However, the response of ice motion to seasonal variations in meltwater supply is poorly constrained both in space and time. Here we present ice motion data obtained with global positioning system receivers located along a ~35¿km transect at the western margin of the Greenland ice sheet throughout a summer melt season. Our measurements reveal substantial increases in ice velocity during summer, up to 220% above winter background values. These speed-up events migrate up the glacier over the course of the summer. The relationship between melt and ice motion varies both at each site throughout the melt season and between sites. We suggest that these patterns can be explained by the seasonal evolution of the subglacial drainage system similar to hydraulic forcing mechanisms for ice dynamics that have been observed at smaller glaciers.

AB - The Greenland ice sheet contains enough water to raise sea levels by 7¿m. However, its present mass balance and future contribution to sea level rise is poorly understood1. Accelerated mass loss has been observed near the ice sheet margin, partly as a result of faster ice motion2, 3, 4. Surface melt waters can reach the base of the ice sheet and enhance basal ice motion5, 6. However, the response of ice motion to seasonal variations in meltwater supply is poorly constrained both in space and time. Here we present ice motion data obtained with global positioning system receivers located along a ~35¿km transect at the western margin of the Greenland ice sheet throughout a summer melt season. Our measurements reveal substantial increases in ice velocity during summer, up to 220% above winter background values. These speed-up events migrate up the glacier over the course of the summer. The relationship between melt and ice motion varies both at each site throughout the melt season and between sites. We suggest that these patterns can be explained by the seasonal evolution of the subglacial drainage system similar to hydraulic forcing mechanisms for ice dynamics that have been observed at smaller glaciers.

U2 - 10.1038/ngeo863

DO - 10.1038/ngeo863

M3 - Article

VL - 3

SP - 408

EP - 411

JO - Nature Geoscience

JF - Nature Geoscience

SN - 1752-0894

IS - 6

ER -