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Greenland supraglacial lake drainages triggered by hydrologically induced basal slip

Citation

Stevens, LA and Behn, MD and McGuire, JJ and Das, SB and Joughin, I and Herring, T and Shean, DE and King, MA, Greenland supraglacial lake drainages triggered by hydrologically induced basal slip, Nature, 522, (7554) pp. 73-76. ISSN 0028-0836 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited

DOI: doi:10.1038/nature14480

Abstract

Water-driven fracture propagation beneath supraglacial lakes rapidly transports large volumes of surface meltwater to the base of the Greenland Ice Sheet. These drainage events drive transient ice-sheet acceleration and establish conduits for additional surface-to-bed meltwater transport for the remainder of the melt season. Although it is well established that cracks must remain water-filled to propagate to the bed, the precise mechanisms that initiate hydro-fracture events beneath lakes are unknown. Here we show that, for a lake on the western Greenland Ice Sheet, drainage events are preceded by a 612 hour period of ice-sheet uplift and/or enhanced basal slip. Our observations from a dense Global Positioning System (GPS) network allow us to determine the distribution of meltwater at the ice-sheet bed before, during, and after three rapid drainages in 20112013, each of which generates tensile stresses that promote hydro-fracture beneath the lake. We hypothesize that these precursors are associated with the introduction of meltwater to the bed through neighbouring moulin systems (vertical conduits connecting the surface and base of the ice sheet). Our results imply that as lakes form in less crevassed, interior regions of the ice sheet, where water at the bed is currently less pervasive, the creation of new surface-to-bed conduits caused by lake-draining hydro-fractures may be limited.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Greenland Ice Sheet, lake drainage, sea level, GPS
Research Division:Engineering
Research Group:Geomatic Engineering
Research Field:Geodesy
Objective Division:Environment
Objective Group:Climate and Climate Change
Objective Field:Social Impacts of Climate Change and Variability
Author:King, MA (Professor Matt King)
ID Code:101007
Year Published:2015
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (FT110100207)
Web of Science® Times Cited:14
Deposited By:Geography and Environmental Studies
Deposited On:2015-06-05
Last Modified:2017-10-24
Downloads:0

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