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Calving event size measurements and statistics of Eqip Sermia, Greenland, from terrestrial radar interferometry


Walter, Andrea; Lüthi, Martin P; Vieli, Andreas (2020). Calving event size measurements and statistics of Eqip Sermia, Greenland, from terrestrial radar interferometry. The Cryosphere, 14(3):1051-1066.

Abstract

Calving is a crucial process for the recently observed dynamic mass loss changes of the Greenland ice sheet. Despite its importance for global sea level change, major limitations in understanding the process of calving remain. This study presents high-resolution calving event data and statistics recorded with a terrestrial radar interferometer at the front of Eqip Sermia, a marine-terminating outlet glacier in Greenland. The derived digital elevation models with a spatial resolution of several metres recorded at 1 min intervals were processed to provide source areas and volumes of 906 individual calving events during a 6 d period. The calving front can be divided into sectors ending in shallow and deep water with different calving statistics and styles. For the shallow sector, characterized by an inclined and very high front, calving events are more frequent and larger than for the vertical ice cliff of the deep sector. We suggest that the calving volume deficiency of 90 % relative to the estimated ice flux in our observations of the deep sector is removed by oceanic melt, subaquatic calving, and small aerial calving events. Assuming a similar ice thickness for both sectors implies that subaqueous mass loss must be substantial for this sector with a contribution of up to 65 % to the frontal mass loss. The size distribution of the shallow sector is represented by a log-normal model, while for the deep sector the log-normal and power-law model fit well, but none of them are significantly better. Variations in calving activity and style between the sectors seem to be controlled by the bed topography and the front geometry. Within the short observation period no simple relationship between environmental forcings and calving frequency or event volume could be detected.

Abstract

Calving is a crucial process for the recently observed dynamic mass loss changes of the Greenland ice sheet. Despite its importance for global sea level change, major limitations in understanding the process of calving remain. This study presents high-resolution calving event data and statistics recorded with a terrestrial radar interferometer at the front of Eqip Sermia, a marine-terminating outlet glacier in Greenland. The derived digital elevation models with a spatial resolution of several metres recorded at 1 min intervals were processed to provide source areas and volumes of 906 individual calving events during a 6 d period. The calving front can be divided into sectors ending in shallow and deep water with different calving statistics and styles. For the shallow sector, characterized by an inclined and very high front, calving events are more frequent and larger than for the vertical ice cliff of the deep sector. We suggest that the calving volume deficiency of 90 % relative to the estimated ice flux in our observations of the deep sector is removed by oceanic melt, subaquatic calving, and small aerial calving events. Assuming a similar ice thickness for both sectors implies that subaqueous mass loss must be substantial for this sector with a contribution of up to 65 % to the frontal mass loss. The size distribution of the shallow sector is represented by a log-normal model, while for the deep sector the log-normal and power-law model fit well, but none of them are significantly better. Variations in calving activity and style between the sectors seem to be controlled by the bed topography and the front geometry. Within the short observation period no simple relationship between environmental forcings and calving frequency or event volume could be detected.

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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
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Water Science and Technology
Physical Sciences > Earth-Surface Processes
Uncontrolled Keywords:Earth-Surface Processes, Water Science and Technology
Language:English
Date:20 March 2020
Deposited On:08 Apr 2020 12:56
Last Modified:22 Apr 2020 23:23
Publisher:Copernicus Publications
ISSN:1994-0416
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-14-1051-2020

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