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

Submitted as: research article 03 Jun 2019

Submitted as: research article | 03 Jun 2019

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

Coupled modelling of subglacial hydrology and calving-front melting at Store Glacier, West Greenland

Samuel J. Cook1, Poul Christoffersen1, Joe Todd2, Donald Slater3, and Nolwenn Chauché4 Samuel J. Cook et al.
  • 1Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, UK
  • 2Department of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews, UK
  • 3Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA
  • 4Access Arctic, Le Vieux Marigny 58160, Sauvigny les Bois, France

Abstract. We investigate the subglacial hydrology of Store Glacier in West Greenland, using the open-source, full-Stokes model Elmer/Ice in a novel 3D application that includes a distributed water sheet, as well as discrete channelised drainage, and a 1D model to simulate submarine plumes at the calving front. At first, we produce a baseline winter scenario with no surface meltwater. We then investigate the hydrological system during summer, focussing specifically on 2012 and 2017, which provide examples of high and low surface-meltwater inputs, respectively. In winter, we find channels over 1 m2 in area occurring up to 5 km inland, which shows that the common inference of zero winter freshwater flux is invalid and that the annual production of water from friction and geothermal heat is sufficiently high to drive year-round plume activity, with ice-front melting averaging 0.15 m d−1 in winter. When the model is forced with seasonally averaged surface melt from summer, outputs show a hydrological system with significant distributed sheet activity extending 65 km and 45 km inland in 2012 and 2017, respectively; while channels with a cross-sectional area higher than 1 m2 form as far as 55 km and 30 km inland. Using daily values for the surface melt as forcing, we find only a weak relationship between the input of surface meltwater and the intensity of plume melting at the calving front, whereas there is a strong correlation between surface-meltwater peaks and basal water pressures. The former shows that storage on multiple timescales within the subglacial drainage system plays an important role in modulating outflow. The latter shows that high melt inputs can drive high basal water pressures even when the channelised network grows larger. This has implications for the future velocity and mass loss of Store Glacier, and the consequent sea-level rise, in a warming world.

Samuel J. Cook et al.
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Samuel J. Cook et al.
Samuel J. Cook et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
This paper models how water flows beneath a large Greenlandic glacier, and how the structure of the drainage system it flows in changes over time. We also look at how this affects melting driven by freshwater plumes at the glacier front, as well as the implications for glacier flow and sea-level rise. We find an active drainage system and plumes exist all-year round, contradicting previous assumptions, and suggest more melting may not slow the glacier down, unlike other sites in Greenland.
This paper models how water flows beneath a large Greenlandic glacier, and how the structure of...