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Greenland subglacial drainage evolution regulated by weakly connected regions of the bed


Hoffman, Matthew J; Andrews, Lauren C; Price, Stephen A; Catania, Ginny A; Neumann, Thomas A; Lüthi, Martin P; Gulley, Jason; Ryser, Claudia; Hawley, Robert L; Morriss, Blaine (2016). Greenland subglacial drainage evolution regulated by weakly connected regions of the bed. Nature Communications, 7:13903.

Abstract

Penetration of surface meltwater to the bed of the Greenland Ice Sheet each summer causes an initial increase in ice speed due to elevated basal water pressure, followed by slowdown in late summer that continues into fall and winter. While this seasonal pattern is commonly explained by an evolution of the subglacial drainage system from an inefficient distributed to efficient channelized configuration, mounting evidence indicates that subglacial channels are
unable to explain important aspects of hydrodynamic coupling in late summer and fall. Here we use numerical models of subglacial drainage and ice flow to show that limited, gradual leakage of water and lowering of water pressure in weakly connected regions of the bed can explain the dominant features in late and post melt season ice dynamics. These results suggest that a third weakly connected drainage component should be included in the conceptual model of subglacial hydrology.

Abstract

Penetration of surface meltwater to the bed of the Greenland Ice Sheet each summer causes an initial increase in ice speed due to elevated basal water pressure, followed by slowdown in late summer that continues into fall and winter. While this seasonal pattern is commonly explained by an evolution of the subglacial drainage system from an inefficient distributed to efficient channelized configuration, mounting evidence indicates that subglacial channels are
unable to explain important aspects of hydrodynamic coupling in late summer and fall. Here we use numerical models of subglacial drainage and ice flow to show that limited, gradual leakage of water and lowering of water pressure in weakly connected regions of the bed can explain the dominant features in late and post melt season ice dynamics. These results suggest that a third weakly connected drainage component should be included in the conceptual model of subglacial hydrology.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:20 Dec 2016 13:31
Last Modified:20 Dec 2016 13:32
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2041-1723
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms13903

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