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The impact of jökulhlaups on basal sliding observed by SAR interferometry on Vatnajökull, Iceland

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Abstract:

We have analyzed InSAR data from the ERS-1/ERS-2 tandem mission, to study the ice dynamics of Vatnajökull, Iceland, during jökulhlaups from the Skaftá cauldrons and the Grímsvötn geothermal area, which drained under the Tungnaárjökull and Skeiðarárjökull outlets, respectively. During the initial phase of a Grímsvötn jökulhlaup in March 1996, the velocity of Skeiðarárjökull increased up to three-fold (relative to observed velocities in December 1995) over an area up to 8 km wide around the subglacial flood path. Accumulation of water was observed at one location in the flood path. During a small jökulhlaup from the Skaftá cauldrons in October 1995 the velocity on Tungnaárjökull increased up to four-fold over a 9 km wide area. The velocity increase was observed 1.5 days before the floodwater was detected in the river Skaftá. A reduced glacier speed as the flood peaked in Skaftá indicates evolution of the subglacial drainage system from sheet to tunnel flow. The glacier acceleration and local uplift, observed in the early phase of both jökulhlaups, supports the concept that increased water inflow in a narrow tunnel system causes water pressure to rise and forces water into areas outside the channels, thus reducing the coupling of ice with the glacier bed.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/172756507782202810

Publication date: March 1, 2007

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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igsoc/jog/2007/00000053/00000181/art00008
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