Tidal modulation of buoyant flow and basal melt beneath Petermann Gletscher Ice Shelf, Greenland.

A set of collocated, in situ oceanographic and glaciological measurements from Petermann Gletscher Ice Shelf, Greenland, provides insights into the dynamics of under‐ice flow driving basal melting. At a site 16 km seaward of the grounding line within a longitudinal basal channel, two conductivity‐temperature (CT) sensors beneath the ice base and a phase‐sensitive radar on the ice surface were used to monitor the coupled ice shelf‐ocean system. A six month time series spanning August 23, 2015 to February 12, 2016 exhibited two distinct periods of ice‐ocean interactions. Between August and December, radar‐derived basal melt rates featured fortnightly peaks of ~15 m yr‐1 which preceded the arrival of cold and fresh pulses in the ocean that had high concentrations of subglacial runoff and glacial meltwater. Estimated current speeds reached 0.20‐0.40 m s‐1 during these pulses, consistent with a strengthened meltwater plume from freshwater enrichment. Such signals did not occur between December and February, when ice‐ocean interactions instead varied at principal diurnal and semidiurnal tidal frequencies, and lower melt rates and current speeds prevailed. A combination of estimated current speeds and meltwater concentrations from the two CT sensors yields estimates of subglacial runoff and glacial meltwater volume fluxes that vary between 10 and 80 m3 s‐1 during the ocean pulses. Area‐average upstream ice shelf melt rates from these fluxes are up to 170 m yr‐1, revealing that these strengthened plumes had already driven their most intense melting before arriving at the study site.


Publication status:
Authors: Washam, Peter, Nicholls, Keith ORCIDORCID record for Keith Nicholls, Muenchow, Andreas, Padman, Laurie

On this site: Keith Nicholls
13 October, 2020
Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans / 125
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