EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The meltwater feedbacks on ice dynamics, elevation versus lubrication

Basile de Fleurian1, Petra Langebroek2, and Paul Halas1
Basile de Fleurian et al.
  • 1UiB and Bjerknes Center for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway (
  • 2NORCE and Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway

In recent years, temperatures over the Greenland ice sheet have been rising leading to an increase in surface melt.  Projections show that this augmentation of surface melt will continue in the future and spread to higher elevations. As it increases, melt leads to two different feedbacks on the dynamic of the Greenland ice sheet. This augmentation of melt lowers the ice surface and changes its overall geometry hence impacting the ice dynamics through ice deformation. The other feedback comes into play at the base of glaciers. Here, the increase of water availability will impact the distribution of water pressure at the base of glaciers and hence their sliding velocity. The first feedback is relatively well known and relies on our knowledge of the rheology and deformation of ice. The lubrication feedback acting at the bed of glaciers is however highly uncertain on time scales longer than a season. Here we apply the  Ice  Sheet  System  Model  (ISSM)  to  a  synthetic  glacier  which  geometry  is  similar to the one of a Greenland ice sheet land terminating glacier. The dynamic contributions from ice deformation and sliding are separated to study their relative evolution. This is permitted by the use of a dynamical subglacial hydrology model that allows to link the basal sliding to the meltwater production through an appropriate friction law. The  model  is  forced  through  a  simple  temperature  distribution  and  a  Positive  Degree  Day  model which allows to apply a large range of different forcing scenarios. Of particular interest is the evolution of the distribution of the efficient and inefficient component of the subglacial drainage system and their different response to the distribution of melt during the year which directly impact the sliding regime at the base of the glacier.

How to cite: de Fleurian, B., Langebroek, P., and Halas, P.: The meltwater feedbacks on ice dynamics, elevation versus lubrication, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-13260,, 2020