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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2017-74
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
11 May 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of this manuscript was accepted for the journal The Cryosphere (TC) and is expected to appear here in due course.
Rapidly-changing subglacial hydrology pathways at a tidewater glacier revealed through simultaneous observations of water pressure, supraglacial lakes, meltwater plumes and surface velocities
Penelope How1,2, Douglas I. Benn3, Nicholas R. J. Hulton1,2, Bryn Hubbard4, Adrian Luckman5,6, Heïdi Sevestre3, Ward J. J. van Pelt7, Katrin Lindbäck8, Jack Kohler8, and Wim Boot9 1Institute of Geography, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH8 9XP, UK
2Department of Arctic Geology, University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), Longyearbyen, PO Box 156, N-9171, Norway
3Department of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St. Andrews, Fife, KY16 9AJ, UK
4Centre for Glaciology, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, SY23 3DB, UK
5Department of Geography, College of Science, Swansea University, Swansea, SA2 8PP, UK
6Department of Arctic Geophysics, University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), Longyearbyen, PO Box, 156, N-9171, Norway
7Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, PO Box 256, 751 05, Sweden
8Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI), Fram Centre, Tromsø, PO Box 6606, NO-9296, Norway
9Institute of Marine and Atmospheric Research (IMAU), Utrecht University, Utrecht, 3584 CC, The Netherlands
Abstract. Subglacial hydrological processes at tidewater glaciers remain poorly understood due to the difficulty in obtaining direct measurements and lack of empirical verification for modelling approaches. Here, we investigate the subglacial hydrology of Kronebreen, a fast-flowing tidewater glacier in Svalbard during the 2014 melt season. We combine observations of water pressure, supraglacial lake drainage, surface velocities and plume activity with modelled runoff and water routing to develop a conceptual model that thoroughly encapsulates subglacial drainage at a tidewater glacier. Simultaneous measurements suggest that an early-season episode of subglacial flushing took place during our observation period, and a stable efficient drainage system effectively transported this water through the north region of the glacier tongue. Drainage pathways through the central/southern region of the glacier tongue were disrupted throughout the following melt season. Periodic plume activity at the terminus seems to be a signal for modulated subglacial pulsing i.e. an internally-driven storage and release of subglacial meltwater. This storage is a key control on ice flow in the 2014 melt season. Evidence from this work, and previous studies, strongly suggests that long-term changes in ice flow at Kronebreen are controlled by the location of efficient/inefficient drainage and the position of regions where water is stored and evacuated from.

Citation: How, P., Benn, D. I., Hulton, N. R. J., Hubbard, B., Luckman, A., Sevestre, H., van Pelt, W. J. J., Lindbäck, K., Kohler, J., and Boot, W.: Rapidly-changing subglacial hydrology pathways at a tidewater glacier revealed through simultaneous observations of water pressure, supraglacial lakes, meltwater plumes and surface velocities, The Cryosphere Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2017-74, in review, 2017.
Penelope How et al.
Penelope How et al.

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Short summary
This study provides valuable insight into subglacial hydrology and dynamics at tidewater glaciers, which remains a poorly understood area in glaciology. It is a unique study because of the wealth of information provided by simultaneous observations of glacier hydrology at Kronebreen, a tidewater glacier in Svalbard. All these elements build a strong conceptual picture of the glacier's hydrological regime over the 2014 melt season.
This study provides valuable insight into subglacial hydrology and dynamics at tidewater...
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