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Greenland Ice Sheet flow response to runoff variability

By Laura A. Stevens, Mark D. Behn, Sarah B. Das, Ian Joughin, Brice P Y Noël, Michiel R. van den Broeke and Thomas Herring

Abstract

We use observations of ice sheet surface motion from a Global Positioning System network operating from 2006 to 2014 around North Lake in west Greenland to investigate the dynamical response of the Greenland Ice Sheet's ablation area to interannual variability in surface melting. We find no statistically significant relationship between runoff season characteristics and ice flow velocities within a given year or season. Over the 7 year time series, annual velocities at North Lake decrease at an average rate of −0.9 ± 1.1 m yr−2, consistent with the negative trend in annual velocities observed in neighboring regions over recent decades. We find that net runoff integrated over several preceding years has a negative correlation with annual velocities, similar to findings from the two other available decadal records of ice velocity in western Greenland. However, we argue that this correlation is not necessarily evidence for a direct hydrologic mechanism acting on the timescale of multiple years but could be a statistical construct. Finally, we stress that neither the decadal slowdown trend nor the negative correlation between velocity and integrated runoff is predicted by current ice-sheet models, underscoring that these models do not yet capture all the relevant feedbacks between runoff and ice dynamics needed to predict long-term trends in ice sheet flow

Topics: Greenland Ice Sheet, ice flow, runoff, Geophysics, Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
Year: 2016
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Provided by: NARCIS
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