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Deformation, warming and softening of Greenland’s ice by refreezing meltwater

Bell, Robin; Tinto, Kirsteen; Das, Indrani; Wolovick, Michael; Chu, Winnie; Creyts, Timothy; Fearson, Nicholas; Abdi, Hakim LU and Paden, John (2014) In Nature Geoscience 7. p.497-502
Abstract
Meltwater beneath the large ice sheets can influence ice flow by lubrication at the base or by softening when meltwater refreezes to form relatively warm ice. Refreezing has produced large basal ice units in East Antarctica. Bubble-free basal ice units also outcrop at the edge of the Greenland ice sheet5, but the extent of refreezing and its influence on Greenland’s ice flow dynamics are unknown. Here we demonstrate that refreezing of meltwater produces distinct basal ice units throughout northern Greenland with thicknesses of up to 1,100 m. We compare airborne gravity data with modelled gravity anomalies to show that these basal units are ice. Using radar data we determine the extent of the units, which significantly disrupt the overlying... (More)
Meltwater beneath the large ice sheets can influence ice flow by lubrication at the base or by softening when meltwater refreezes to form relatively warm ice. Refreezing has produced large basal ice units in East Antarctica. Bubble-free basal ice units also outcrop at the edge of the Greenland ice sheet5, but the extent of refreezing and its influence on Greenland’s ice flow dynamics are unknown. Here we demonstrate that refreezing of meltwater produces distinct basal ice units throughout northern Greenland with thicknesses of up to 1,100 m. We compare airborne gravity data with modelled gravity anomalies to show that these basal units are ice. Using radar data we determine the extent of the units, which significantly disrupt the overlying ice sheet stratigraphy. The units consist of refrozen basal water commonly surrounded by heavily deformed meteoric ice derived from snowfall. We map these units along the ice sheet margins where surface melt is the largest source of water, as well as in the interior where basal melting is the only source of water. Beneath Petermann Glacier, basal units coincide with the onset of fast flow and channels in the floating ice tongue. We suggest that refreezing of meltwater and the resulting deformation of the surrounding basal ice warms the Greenland ice sheet, modifying the temperature structure of the ice column and influencing ice flow and grounding line melting. (Less)
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author
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Nature Geoscience
volume
7
pages
497 - 502
publisher
Nature Publishing Group
external identifiers
  • scopus:84903521170
ISSN
1752-0908
DOI
10.1038/ngeo2179
language
English
LU publication?
no
id
8d78d8bd-418f-4df7-87b6-6fb637332ace (old id 4648346)
date added to LUP
2014-09-22 11:58:09
date last changed
2017-11-05 03:09:38
@article{8d78d8bd-418f-4df7-87b6-6fb637332ace,
  abstract     = {Meltwater beneath the large ice sheets can influence ice flow by lubrication at the base or by softening when meltwater refreezes to form relatively warm ice. Refreezing has produced large basal ice units in East Antarctica. Bubble-free basal ice units also outcrop at the edge of the Greenland ice sheet5, but the extent of refreezing and its influence on Greenland’s ice flow dynamics are unknown. Here we demonstrate that refreezing of meltwater produces distinct basal ice units throughout northern Greenland with thicknesses of up to 1,100 m. We compare airborne gravity data with modelled gravity anomalies to show that these basal units are ice. Using radar data we determine the extent of the units, which significantly disrupt the overlying ice sheet stratigraphy. The units consist of refrozen basal water commonly surrounded by heavily deformed meteoric ice derived from snowfall. We map these units along the ice sheet margins where surface melt is the largest source of water, as well as in the interior where basal melting is the only source of water. Beneath Petermann Glacier, basal units coincide with the onset of fast flow and channels in the floating ice tongue. We suggest that refreezing of meltwater and the resulting deformation of the surrounding basal ice warms the Greenland ice sheet, modifying the temperature structure of the ice column and influencing ice flow and grounding line melting.},
  author       = {Bell, Robin and Tinto, Kirsteen and Das, Indrani and Wolovick, Michael and Chu, Winnie and Creyts, Timothy and Fearson, Nicholas and Abdi, Hakim and Paden, John},
  issn         = {1752-0908},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {497--502},
  publisher    = {Nature Publishing Group},
  series       = {Nature Geoscience},
  title        = {Deformation, warming and softening of Greenland’s ice by refreezing meltwater},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ngeo2179},
  volume       = {7},
  year         = {2014},
}