Surface mass budget and meltwater discharge from the Kangerlussuaq sector of the Greenland ice sheet during record-warm year 2010
1Geol. Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Øster Voldgade 10, 1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark
2Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Llandinam Building, Penglais Campus, Aberystwyth, SY23 3DB, Wales
3Department of Geography and Geology, Øster Voldgade 10, 1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark
4Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Utrecht University, Princetonplein 5, 3584 CC Utrecht, The Netherlands
Abstract. The year 2010 has been anomalously warm in most of Greenland, most notably in the south and along the western coast. Our study targets the Kangerlussuaq region around 67° N in Southwest Greenland, where the temperature anomalies were record setting. In 2010, the average temperature was 5 °C (2.7 standard deviations) above the 1974–2010 average in the town of Kangerlussuaq. High temperatures were also observed over the ice sheet, with the positive anomaly increasing with altitude. Also surface albedo, from calibrated MODIS measurements, was anomalously low in 2010, chiefly in the upper ablation zone. The low albedo was caused by the high ablation in 2010, which profited in turn from high temperatures, low albedo, and of low wintertime accumulation. The largest melt excess (166%) was found in the upper ablation zone, where higher temperatures and lower albedo contributed equally to the melt anomaly. In total, we estimate that 6.6 km3 of surface meltwater ran off the ice sheet in the Kangerlussuaq catchment area in 2010, exceeding "normal" year 2009 by 145%. When compared to discharge estimated from discharge measurements in the proglacial river we find good agreement. The time lag between the records is caused by storage within and underneath the ice sheet, and suggests adaption of the subglacial drainage system to meltwater availability, with more efficient drainage occurring after the peak of the melt season.