Indication of high basal melting at the EastGRIP drill site on the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream

Zeising, Ole; Humbert, Angelika

The accelerated ice flow of ice streams that reach far into the interior of the ice sheets is associated with lubrication of the ice sheet base by basal meltwater. However, the amount of basal melting under the large ice streams – such as the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream (NEGIS) – is largely unknown. In situ measurements of basal melt rates are important from various perspectives as they indicate the heat budget, the hydrological regime and the relative importance of sliding in glacier motion. The few previous estimates of basal melt rates in the NEGIS region were inline-formula0.1 m ainline-formula−1 and more, based on radiostratigraphy methods. These findings raised the question of the heat source, since even an increased geothermal heat flux could not deliver the necessary amount of heat. Here, we present basal melt rates at the recent deep drill site EastGRIP, located in the centre of NEGIS. Within 2 subsequent years, we found basal melt rates of inline-formula0.19±0.04 m ainline-formula−1 that are based on analysis of repeated phase-sensitive radar measurements. In order to quantify the contribution of processes that contribute to melting, we carried out an assessment of the energy balance at the interface and found the subglacial water system to play a key role in facilitating such high melt rates.

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Zeising, Ole / Humbert, Angelika: Indication of high basal melting at the EastGRIP drill site on the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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