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Controls on short-term variations in Greenland glacier dynamics

  • A.V. Sundal (a1), A. Shepherd (a1), M. van den Broeke (a2), J. Van Angelen (a2), N. Gourmelen (a1) and J. Park (a1)...

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 Isbræ, 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.

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