Investigating the hydrology and dynamics of the Greenland Ice Sheet
Prof. Pete Nienow (University of Edinburgh)
During the summer, meltwater generated on the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) is able to access the ice sheet bed, lubricating basal motion and resulting in periods of faster ice flow. It has been postulated that this faster ice motion could result in a more rapid demise of the GrIS through enhanced advection of ice to lower elevations where it will melt more rapidly. However, the net impact of varying meltwater volumes upon seasonal and annual ice flow, and thus sea level rise, remains unclear; in large part due to the role that the structure and evolution of the subglacial drainage system plays in mediating ice motion. This talk presents ice velocity and hydrology data from a land-terminating transect on the western GrIS margin during contrasting melt years and summarises the likely impact of increased summer melting, in a warming world, on the dynamic stability of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
Pete gave his last seminar here in 2002. There was considerable debate and contrasting views between he and some members of the audience regarding the likely importance of hydrology coupling to the dynamics of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Pete looks forward to revisiting that debate and considering how the science has progressed.