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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-2019-247
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2019-247
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 04 Nov 2019

Submitted as: research article | 04 Nov 2019

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

Quantifying iceberg calving fluxes with underwater noise

Oskar Glowacki1,2 and Grant B. Deane1 Oskar Glowacki and Grant B. Deane
  • 1Marine Physical Laboratory, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, USA
  • 2Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland

Abstract. Accurate estimates of calving fluxes are essential to understand small-scale glacier dynamics and quantify the contribution of marine-terminating glaciers to both eustatic sea level rise and the freshwater budget of polar regions. Here we investigate the application of ambient noise oceanography to measure calving flux using the underwater sounds of iceberg-water impact. A combination of time-lapse photography and passive acoustics is used to determine the relationship between the mass and impact noise of 169 icebergs generated by subaerial calving events from Hans Glacier, Svalbard. The analysis includes three major factors affecting the observed noise: 1. fluctuation of the thermohaline structure, 2. variability of the ocean depth along the waveguide, and 3. reflection of impact noise from the glacier terminus. A correlation of 0.76 is found between the (log-transformed) kinetic energy of the falling iceberg and the corresponding acoustic energy. An error-in-variables linear regression is applied to estimate the coefficients of this relationship. Energy conversion coefficients for non-transformed variables are 8 × 10−7 and 0.92, respectively for the multiplication factor and exponent of the power law. As we demonstrate, this simple model can be used to measure solid ice discharge from Hans Glacier. Uncertainty in the estimate is a function of the number of calving events observed; 50 % is expected for 8 blocks dropping to 20 % and 10 %, respectively, for 40 and 135 calving events. It may be possible to lower these errors if the influence of different calving styles on the received noise spectra can be determined.

Oskar Glowacki and Grant B. Deane
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Oskar Glowacki and Grant B. Deane
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Short summary
Marine-terminating glaciers are shrinking rapidly in response to the warming climate and thus provide large quantities of fresh water to the ocean system. However, accurate estimates of ice loss at the ice-ocean boundary are difficult to obtain. Here we demonstrate that ice mass loss from iceberg break-off (calving) can be measured by analyzing the underwater noise generated as icebergs impact the water.
Marine-terminating glaciers are shrinking rapidly in response to the warming climate and thus...
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