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Detailed spatially distributed geothermal heat-flow data for modeling of basal temperatures and meltwater production beneath the Fennoscandian ice sheet

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Accurate modeling of ice sheets requires proper information on boundary conditions, including the geothermal heat flow (or heat-flow density (HFD)). Traditionally, one uniform HFD value is adopted for the entire modeled domain. We have calculated a distributed, high-resolution HFD dataset for an approximate core area (Sweden and Finland) of the Scandinavian ice sheet, and imbedded this within lower-resolution data published for surrounding regions. Within the Last Glacial Maximum ice margin, HFD varies with a factor of as much as 2.8 (HFD values ranging between 30 and 83 mW m−2), with an average of 49 mW m−2. This average value is 17% higher than 42 mW m−2, a common uniform value used in ice-sheet modeling studies of Fennoscandia. Using this new distributed dataset on HFD, instead of a traditional uniform value of 42 mW m−2, yields a 1.4 times larger total basal meltwater production for the last glacial cycle. Furthermore, using the new dataset in high-resolution modeling results in increased spatial thermal gradients at the bed. This enhances and introduces new local and regional effects on basal ice temperatures and melt rates. We observed significant strengthening of local 'ice streaming', which in one case correlates to an ice-flow event previously interpreted from geomorphology. Regional to local variations in geothermal heat flow need to be considered for proper identification and treatment of thermal and hydraulic bed conditions, most likely also when studying Laurentide, Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2005-01-01

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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