Seasonal variability in the Greenland Ice Sheet's (GrIS) sliding speed is regulated by the response of the subglacial drainage system to meltwater inputs. However, the importance of channelization relative to the dewatering of isolated cavities in controlling seasonal ice deceleration remains unsolved. Using ice motion, moulin hydraulic head, and glaciohydraulic tremor measurements, we show the passing of a subglacial floodwave triggered by upglacier supraglacial lake drainages slowed sliding to wintertime background speeds without increasing the hydraulic capacity of the moulin‐connected drainage system. We interpret these results to reflect an increase in basal traction caused by the dewatering of isolated cavities. These results suggest the dewatering of isolated parts of the subglacial drainage system play a key role in driving seasonal slowdowns on the GrIS.
This content will become publicly available on November 14, 2023
Links between hydrology and sliding of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) are poorly understood. Here, we monitored meltwater's propagation through the glacial hydrologic system for catchments at different elevations by quantifying the lag cascade as daily meltwater pulses traveled through the supraglacial, englacial, and subglacial drainage systems. We found that meltwater's residence time within supraglacial catchments—depending upon area, snow cover, and degree of channelization—controls the timing of peak moulin head, resulting in the 2 hr later peak observed at higher elevations. Unlike at lower elevations where peak moulin head and peak sliding coincided, at higher elevations peak sliding lagged peak moulin head by ∼2.8 hr. This delay was likely caused by the area's lower moulin density, which required diurnal pressure oscillations to migrate further into the distributed drainage system to elicit the observed velocity response. These observations highlight the supraglacial drainage system's control on coupling GrIS subglacial hydrology and sliding.more » « less
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- DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
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- Geophysical Research Letters
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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