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      Basal conditions and ice dynamics inferred from radar-derived internal stratigraphy of the northeast Greenland ice stream

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          Abstract

          We analyze the internal stratigraphy in radio-echo sounding data of the northeast Greenland ice stream to infer past and present ice dynamics. In the upper reaches of the ice stream, we propose that shear-margin steady-state folds in internal reflecting horizons (IRHs) form due to the influence of ice flow over spatially varying basal lubrication. IRHs are generally lower in the ice stream than outside, likely because of greater basal melting in the ice stream from enhanced geothermal flux and heat of sliding. Strain-rate modeling of IRHs deposited during the Holocene indicates no recent major changes in ice-stream vigor or extent in this region. Downstream of our survey, IRHs are disrupted as the ice flows into a prominent overdeepening. When combined with additional data from other studies, these data suggest that upstream portions of the ice stream are controlled by variations in basal lubrication whereas downstream portions are confined by basal topography.

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          Most cited references55

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          Abrupt increase in Greenland snow accumulation at the end of the Younger Dryas event

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            Ice flow of the Antarctic ice sheet.

            We present a reference, comprehensive, high-resolution, digital mosaic of ice motion in Antarctica assembled from multiple satellite interferometric synthetic-aperture radar data acquired during the International Polar Year 2007 to 2009. The data reveal widespread, patterned, enhanced flow with tributary glaciers reaching hundreds to thousands of kilometers inland over the entire continent. This view of ice sheet motion emphasizes the importance of basal-slip-dominated tributary flow over deformation-dominated ice sheet flow, redefines our understanding of ice sheet dynamics, and has far-reaching implications for the reconstruction and prediction of ice sheet evolution.
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              Extensive dynamic thinning on the margins of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.

              Many glaciers along the margins of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are accelerating and, for this reason, contribute increasingly to global sea-level rise. Globally, ice losses contribute approximately 1.8 mm yr(-1) (ref. 8), but this could increase if the retreat of ice shelves and tidewater glaciers further enhances the loss of grounded ice or initiates the large-scale collapse of vulnerable parts of the ice sheets. Ice loss as a result of accelerated flow, known as dynamic thinning, is so poorly understood that its potential contribution to sea level over the twenty-first century remains unpredictable. Thinning on the ice-sheet scale has been monitored by using repeat satellite altimetry observations to track small changes in surface elevation, but previous sensors could not resolve most fast-flowing coastal glaciers. Here we report the use of high-resolution ICESat (Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite) laser altimetry to map change along the entire grounded margins of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. To isolate the dynamic signal, we compare rates of elevation change from both fast-flowing and slow-flowing ice with those expected from surface mass-balance fluctuations. We find that dynamic thinning of glaciers now reaches all latitudes in Greenland, has intensified on key Antarctic grounding lines, has endured for decades after ice-shelf collapse, penetrates far into the interior of each ice sheet and is spreading as ice shelves thin by ocean-driven melt. In Greenland, glaciers flowing faster than 100 m yr(-1) thinned at an average rate of 0.84 m yr(-1), and in the Amundsen Sea embayment of Antarctica, thinning exceeded 9.0 m yr(-1) for some glaciers. Our results show that the most profound changes in the ice sheets currently result from glacier dynamics at ocean margins.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Annals of Glaciology
                Ann. Glaciol.
                Cambridge University Press (CUP)
                0260-3055
                1727-5644
                2014
                July 26 2017
                2014
                : 55
                : 67
                : 127-137
                Article
                10.3189/2014AoG67A090
                ee92a4b2-30a2-46ae-8109-3477e55016db
                © 2014

                https://www.cambridge.org/core/terms


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