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Controls on short-term variations in Greenland glacier dynamics

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Abstract:

Short-term ice-dynamical processes at Greenland's Jakobshavn and Kangerdlugssuaq glaciers were studied using a 3 day time series of synthetic aperture radar data acquired during the 2011 European Remote-sensing Satellite-2 (ERS-2) 3 day repeat campaign together with modelled meteorological parameters. The time series spans the period March–July 2011 and captures the first ∼30% of the summer melting season. In both study areas, we observe velocity fluctuations at the lower ∼10 km of the glacier. At Jakobshavn Isbrae, where our dataset covers the first part of the seasonal calving-front retreat, we identify ten calving episodes, with a mean calving-front area loss of 1.29 ± 0.4 km2. Significant glacier speed-up was observed in the near-terminus area following all calving episodes. We identify changes in calving-front geometry as the dominant control on velocity fluctuations on both glaciers, apart from a <15% early-summer speed-up at Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier during a period of calving-front advance, which we attribute to enhanced surface melt-induced basal lubrication. Our 3 day velocity maps show new spatial characteristics of the ice melange flow variability in the Jakobshavn and Kangerdlugssuaq fjord systems, which are primarily controlled by calving-front dynamics and fjord geometry.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3189/2013JoG13J019

Publication date: 2013-10-01

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  • 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.

    Beginning in 2016, content will be available at https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-glaciology.
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