EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Spatial variation of ice crystal fabric and implications of anisotropic flow in the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream

Tamara Gerber1, Olaf Eisen3, and the NEGIS community*
Tamara Gerber and Olaf Eisen and the NEGIS community
  • 1Section for the Physics of Ice, Climate and Earth, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 3Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • *A full list of authors appears at the end of the abstract

Anisotropic crystal fabrics in ice sheets develop as a consequence of deformation and hence record information of past ice flow. Simultaneously, the fabric affects the present-day bulk mechanical properties of glacier ice because the susceptibility of ice crystals to deformation is highly anisotropic. This is particularly relevant in dynamic areas such as fast-flowing glaciers and ice streams, where the formation of strong fabrics might play a critical role in facilitating ice flow. Anisotropy is ignored in most state-of-the-art ice sheet models, and while its importance has long been recognized, accounting for fabric evolution and its impact on the ice viscosity has only recently become feasible. Both the application of such models to ice streams and their verification through in-situ observations are still rare. We present an extensive dataset of fabric anisotropy derived from ground-based and air-borne radar data, covering approximately 24,000 km2 of the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream onset region. Our methods yield the horizontal anisotropy and are based on travel time anisotropy as well as birefringence-induced power modulation of radar signals. These methods complement each other and show good agreement. We compare the in-situ observations with the results obtained from a fabric-evolution model employed along flow line bundles in the ice stream onset to discuss the fabric in light of past flow history and its significance for the current flow mechanics of the ice stream.


NEGIS community:

Tamara Annina Gerber¹ , David Armond Lilien² , Nicholas Mossor Rathmann¹ , Steven Franke³ , Tun Jan Young⁴ , Fernando Valero-Delgado³ , Reza Ershadi⁵ , Reinhard Drews⁵ , Ole Zeising³ , Angelika Humbert³,⁶ , Nicolas Stoll³,⁶, Ilka Weikusat³ , Aslak Grinsted¹ , Christine Schøtt Hvidberg¹ , Daniela Jansen³ , Heinrich Miller³ , Veit Helm³ , Daniel Steinhage³ , Charles O’Neill⁷ , John Paden⁸ , Siva Prascad Gogineni⁷ , Dorthe Dahl-Jensen¹,² , and Olaf Eisen³,⁶

How to cite: Gerber, T. and Eisen, O. and the NEGIS community: Spatial variation of ice crystal fabric and implications of anisotropic flow in the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-7695,, 2023.