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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2017-99
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
27 Jun 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).
Submarine melt rates and mass balance for Greenland's remaining ice tongues
Nat Wilson1,2, Fiammetta Straneo3, and Patrick Heimbach4 1MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography/Applied Ocean Engineering, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
2Geology and Geophysics Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA
3Physical Oceanography Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA
4Jackson School of Geosciences and Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA
Abstract. Ice shelf-like floating extensions at the termini of Greenland glaciers are undergoing rapid changes with potential implications for the stability of upstream glaciers and the ice sheet as a whole. While submarine melting is recognized as a major contributor to mass loss, the spatial distribution of submarine melting and its contribution to the total mass balance of these floating extensions is incompletely known and understood. Here, we use high-resolution WorldView satellite imagery collected between 2011–2015 to infer the magnitude and spatial variability of melt rates under Greenland's largest remaining ice tongues, Nioghalvfjerdsbræ (79 North Glacier), Ryder Glacier, and Petermann Glacier. Submarine melt rates under the ice tongues vary considerably, exceeding 50 m a-1 near the grounding zone and decaying rapidly downstream. Channels, likely originating from upstream subglacial channels, give rise to large melt variations across the ice tongues. We compare the total melt rates to the influx of ice to the ice tongue to assess their contribution to the current mass balance. At Petermann Glacier and Ryder Glacier, we find that the combined submarine and aerial melt approximately balances the ice flux from the grounded ice sheet. At Nioghalvfjerdsbræ the total melt flux (14.2 ± 1.6 km3 a-1 water-equivalent) exceeds the inflow of ice (10.2 ± 0.59 km3 a-1 water-equivalent) indicating present thinning of the ice tongue.

Citation: Wilson, N., Straneo, F., and Heimbach, P.: Submarine melt rates and mass balance for Greenland's remaining ice tongues, The Cryosphere Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2017-99, in review, 2017.
Nat Wilson et al.
Nat Wilson et al.
Nat Wilson et al.

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We estimate submarine melt rates from ice tongues in northern Greenland using WorldView satellite imagery. At Ryder Glacier, melt is strongly concentrated around regions where subglacier channels likely enter the fjord. At 79 North Glacier, we find a large volume imbalance in which melting removes a greater quantity of ice than is replaced by inflow over the grounding line. This leads us to predict a reduction in the spatial extent of the ice tongue over the coming decade.
We estimate submarine melt rates from ice tongues in northern Greenland using WorldView...
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