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Noon seminar - Evidence for meltwater retention within the Greenland ice sheet

Monday, October 08, 2012, 12:00PM - 1:00PM


Asa Rennermalm

Rutgers Department of Geography


ARC room 620

Greenland ice sheet water release, and the magnitude of sub- and englacial storage, firn densification, internal refreezing and other hydrologic processes that delay or reduce true water export to the global ocean remain poorly understood. This problem is compounded by scant hydrometerological measurements. Here, ice sheet surface meltwater runoff and proglacial river discharge determined between 2008 and 2010 for three sites near Kangerlussuaq, western Greenland were used to establish the water budget for a small ice sheet watershed. The water budget could not be closed in the three years, even when uncertainty ranges were considered. Instead, between 12% and 53% of ice sheet surface runoff is retained within the catchment each melt year (time between onset of ice sheet runoff in two consecutive years) most likely in en- and subglacial storages. Evidence suggests that while some holdover summer meltwater may escape during the cold-season, this water volume is too small to close the budget. Thus, this study indicates that the Greenland ice sheet cryo-hydrologic system may remain active year round, and that meltwater may be retained in the pro glacial area, internally, or in firn layers for prolonged time periods before release to the ocean.


Free and open to the public