Supraglacial forcing of subglacial drainage in the ablation zone of the Greenland ice sheet

Ian Bartholomew, Peter Nienow, Andrew Sole, Douglas Mair, Thomas Cowton, Steven Palmer, Jemma Wadham

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Abstract

We measure hydrological parameters in meltwater draining from an outlet glacier in west Greenland to investigate seasonal changes in the structure and behaviour of the hydrological system of a large catchment in the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS). Our data reveal seasonal upglacier expansion and increase in hydraulic efficiency of the subglacial drainage system, across a catchment >600 km(2), to distances >50 km from the ice-sheet margin. This expansion occurs episodically in response to the drainage of surface meltwaters into a hitherto inefficient subglacial drainage system as new input locations become active progressively further upglacier; this system is similar to Alpine glaciers. These observations provide the first synopsis of seasonal hydrological behaviour in the ablation zone of the GrIS. Citation: Bartholomew, I., P. Nienow, A. Sole, D. Mair, T. Cowton, S. Palmer, and J. Wadham (2011), Supraglacial forcing of subglacial drainage in the ablation zone of the Greenland ice sheet, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L08502, doi: 10.1029/2011GL047063.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL08502
Number of pages5
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume38
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2011

Keywords

  • seasonal evolution
  • basal sediment
  • surface melt
  • glacier
  • system
  • acceleration
  • configuration
  • lakes

Cite this

Bartholomew, I., Nienow, P., Sole, A., Mair, D., Cowton, T., Palmer, S., & Wadham, J. (2011). Supraglacial forcing of subglacial drainage in the ablation zone of the Greenland ice sheet. Geophysical Research Letters, 38(8), [L08502]. https://doi.org/10.1029/2011GL047063