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Energy and water mass balance of Lake Untersee and its perennial ice cover, East Antarctica

  • Benoit Faucher (a1), Denis Lacelle (a1), David A. Fisher (a2), Dale T. Andersen (a3) and Christopher P. McKay (a4)...

Abstract

Lake Untersee is one of the largest perennially ice-covered lakes in Dronning Maud Land. We investigated the energy and water mass balance of Lake Untersee to understand its state of equilibrium. The thickness of the ice cover is strongly correlated with sublimation rates; variations in sublimation rates across the ice cover are largely determined by wind-driven turbulent heat fluxes and the number of snow-covered days. Lake extent and water level have remained stable for the past 20 years, indicating that the water mass balance is in equilibrium. The lake is damned by the Anuchin Glacier and mass balance calculation suggest that subaqueous melting of terminus ice contributes 40–45% of the annual water budget; since there is no evidence of streams flowing into the lake, the lake must be connected to a groundwater system that contributes 55–60% in order to maintain the lake budget in balance. The groundwater likely flows at a rate of ~8.8 × 10−2 m3 s−1, a reasonable estimate given the range of subglacial water flux in the region. The fate of its well-sealed ice cover is likely tied to changes in wind regime, whereas changes in water budget are more closely linked to the response of surrounding glaciers to climate change.

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Energy and water mass balance of Lake Untersee and its perennial ice cover, East Antarctica

  • Benoit Faucher (a1), Denis Lacelle (a1), David A. Fisher (a2), Dale T. Andersen (a3) and Christopher P. McKay (a4)...

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