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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-102
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-102
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 17 May 2019

Research article | 17 May 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Calving event size measurements and statistics of Eqip Sermia, Greenland, from terrestrial radar interferometry

Andrea Walter1,2, Martin P. Lüthi1, and Andreas Vieli1 Andrea Walter et al.
  • 1Institute of Geography, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

Abstract. Calving is a crucial process for the recently observed dynamic mass loss changes of the Greenland ice sheet. Despite its importance for global sea level change, major limitations in understanding the calving process remain. This study presents calving event data and statistics recorded with a terrestrial radar interferometer at the front of Eqip Sermia, a marine terminating outlet glacier in Greenland. The data with a spatial resolution of several meters recorded at one-minute intervals was processed to provide source areas and volumes of 1700 individual calving events during a 6 day period. The calving front can be divided into sectors ending in shallow and deep water with different calving statistics and style. For the shallow sector, characterised by an inclined and very high front, calving events are more frequent and larger than for the vertical ice cliff of the deep sector. We suggest that the calving volume missing in our observations of the deep sector is removed by oceanic melt and subaquatic calving, which implies that subaqueous mass loss must be substantial for this sector with a contribution of up to 75 % to the frontal mass loss. The size distribution of the deep sector follows a power law, while the shallow sector is likely represented by a log-normal model. Variations in calving activity and style within the sectors seem to be controlled by the bed topography and the front geometry. Within the short observation period no clear relationship between environmental forcings and calving frequency or event volume could be detected.

Andrea Walter et al.
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Andrea Walter et al.
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Short summary
Glacier calving plays a key role for the dynamic mass loss of ocean terminating glaciers in Greenland. Source areas and volumes of 1700 individual calving events were analysed for size and timing related to environmental forcings. We found that calving volume distribution and style vary along the calving front and are controlled by the water depth and front geometry. We suggest that in deep water both oceanic melt and subaquatic calving contribute substantially to the frontal mass loss.
Glacier calving plays a key role for the dynamic mass loss of ocean terminating glaciers in...
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