Patchy lakes and topographic origin for fast flow in the Recovery Glacier system, East Antarctica

The Recovery subglacial basin, with its largest glacier Recovery Glacier, has been identified as potentially the biggest contributor to future sea level rise from East Antarctica. Subglacial lakes along the main trunk have been detected from satellite data, with four giant lakes (Recovery Lakes A, B, C and D) located at the onset of the fast ice flow (≥15 m/yr) and multiple smaller lakes along the glacier. The presence of subglacial water potentially plays a key role in the control of fast ice flow of Recovery Glacier. We present new insights on the Recovery Lakes from airborne radar data collected in 2013 and 2015. Using an adjusted classification scheme we show that a single large area consisting of smaller lakes connected by likely saturated sediment, referred to as Lake AB, exists in the originally proposed area of the Recovery Lakes A and B. We estimate that the current size of Lake AB is ∼4320 km2. Water likely leaks from the western shore of Lake AB lubricating the bed initiating fast ice flow at this location. The difference in the outlines of Lake AB and the Lakes A and B previously derived from surface features suggested that a larger paleo lake existed here in the past. From our data, we find Recovery Lake C to be dry; we attribute fast ice flow originating from this area to be due to a topographic step, and thus an increase in ice thickness rather than enhanced lubrication at the bed.


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Authors: Diez, Anja, Matsuoka, Kenichi, Jordan, Tom A. ORCIDORCID record for Tom A. Jordan, Kohler, Jack, Ferraccioli, Fausto ORCIDORCID record for Fausto Ferraccioli, Corr, Hugh F., Olesen, Arne V., Forsberg, René, Casal, Tania G.

On this site: Fausto Ferraccioli, Hugh Corr, Tom Jordan
1 February, 2019
Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface / 124
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