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Calving of a tidewater glacier driven by melting at the waterline

  • Michał Pętlicki (a1), Michał Ciepły (a2), Jacek A. Jania (a2), Agnieszka Promińska (a3) and Christophe Kinnard (a4)...
Abstract

We present a study of the development of a thermo-erosional notch at the waterline and its influence on calving of Hansbreen, a medium-sized grounded tidewater glacier in southern Svalbard. The study is based on the results of undercut notch melt modelling, based on measurements of sea-water properties, repeated terrestrial laser scans and analysis of time-lapse camera images. There is a strong correlation between observed calving activity and modelled melt rate of the undercut notch. Measured depths of the undercut reach 4 m and vary greatly over time. The calving activity of Hansbreen was significantly lower in 2011 than in 2012, due to the persistent presence of the ice pack in Hornsund fjord, which cooled the sea surface and suppressed the wave action. Calving on Hansbreen is controlled by a local imbalance of forces at the front, due to thermo-erosional undercutting at the sea waterline. Calving activity is therefore sensitive to changes in sea-water temperature and wave height. It may be expected that calving rates will rise with increased advection of warm oceanic water to the Arctic.

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Copyright
Copyright © International Glaciological Society 2015 This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution license. (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Correspondence: Michał Pętlicki<petlicki@igf.edu.pl>
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