Quantitative controls on the routing of supraglacial meltwater to the bed of glaciers and ice sheets
PublisherUniversity of Aberdeen
MetadataShow full item record
The influence of seasonal influx of supraglacial meltwater on basal water pressures and consequent changes in ice surface velocity has been a focus of research spanning over three decades. With a need to better include glacial hydrology within models of ice sheet evolution, the ability to predict where and when meltwater reaches the subglacial system is paramount for understanding the dynamics of large Arctic ice masses. The response of ice velocities to melt production suggests efficient transmission of meltwater from the supraglacial to subglacial hydrologic systems, and it has been shown that build-ups of stored meltwater in supraglacial lakes can force crevasse penetration through hundreds of metres of ice. This thesis presents a new modelling routine for prediction of moulin formation and delivery of meltwater to the ice-bed interface. Temporal and spatial patterns of moulin formation and drainage of supraglacial lakes are presented, and quantitative controls on crevasse propagation are investigated through a series of sensitivity tests. _J .' . The model is applied to two glacial catchments: the Croker Bay catchment of the Devon Ice Cap in High Arctic Canada; and the Leverett glacier catchment of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Through model application to these sites, sensitivities to crevasse surface dimensions, ice tensile strength, ice fracture toughness and air temperatures are investigated. Model predictions of moulin formation and melt transfer are compared with field observations and remotely sensed data, including ice surface velocities, proglacial discharge, dynamic flow regimes, and visible surface features. The inclusion of spatially distributed points of meltwater delivery to the 'subglacial system is imperative to fully understand the behaviour of the subglacial drainage system. Furthermore, dynamic response to future climatic change and melt scenarios, and the evolution of ice masses, cannot be fully understood without first understanding the glacial hydrologic processes driving many of these changes.