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Discharge of debris from ice at the margin of the Greenland ice sheet

  • Peter G. Knight (a1), Richard I. Waller (a1), Carrie J. Patterson (a2), Alison P. Jones (a3) and Zoe P. Robinson (a1)...

Sediment production at a terrestrial section of the ice-sheet margin in West Greenland is dominated by debris released through the basal ice layer. The debris flux through the basal ice at the margin is estimated to be 12–45 m3 m−1 a−1. This is three orders of magnitude higher than that previously reported for East Antarctica, an order of magnitude higher than sites reported from in Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, but an order of magnitude lower than values previously reported from tidewater glaciers in Alaska and other high-rate environments such as surging glaciers. At our site, only negligible amounts of debris are released through englacial, supraglacial or subglacial sediment transfer. Glaciofluvial sediment production is highly localized, and long sections of the ice-sheet margin receive no sediment from glaciofluvial sources. These findings differ from those of studies at more temperate glacial settings where glaciofluvial routes are dominant and basal ice contributes only a minor percentage of the debris released at the margin. These data on debris flux through the terrestrial margin of an outlet glacier contribute to our limited knowledge of debris production from the Greenland ice sheet.

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Journal of Glaciology
  • ISSN: 0022-1430
  • EISSN: 1727-5652
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