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Outlet glacier flow response to surface melt: based on analysis of a high-resolution satellite data set

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  • Signe H. Larsen
  • ,
  • Andreas P. Ahlstrøm
  • ,
  • Nanna B. Karlsson
  • ,
  • Anders Kusk
  • ,
  • Peter L. Langen
  • Christine S. Hvidberg
The dynamics of the Greenland Ice Sheet are affected by surface meltwater reaching the base of the ice, altering ice contact with the bedrock. Lack of understanding of this evolution hampers the ability to predict the effects of increasing temperatures on the Greenland Ice Sheet mass balance. Here we present a unique high-resolution study of ice velocity response to surface melting based on data from a COSMO-SkyMed satellite campaign over Upernavik Isstrøm (Northwest Greenland) for two months around the end of the 2014 melt season. We show that the velocity variations, due to both short-term (days) and seasonal variations in surface melt rates, are increasing in relative strength farther from the glacier terminus. Furthermore, we observe how ice dynamic response to frontal retreat, reaching several kilometres inland, can obscure the meltwater-induced velocity change close to the terminus. Future studies should consider the flow velocity dependence on the distance to the terminus, and local geometry, to distinguish subglacial hydrologic system changes from frontal processes and local basal conditions.
TidsskriftJournal of Glaciology
Sider (fra-til)1-9
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - 2023


  • Ice dynamics, ice streams, subglacial processes

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