Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

The ablation zone in northeast Greenland: ice types, albedos and impurities

  • Carl Egede Bøggild (a1), Richard E. Brandt (a2), Kendrick J. Brown (a3) (a4) (a5) and Stephen G. Warren (a2)

Abstract

Ice types, albedos and impurity content are characterized for the ablation zone of the Greenland ice sheet in Kronprinz Christians Land (80° N, 24° W). Along this ice margin the width of the ablation zone is only about 8 km. The emergence and melting of old ice in the ablation zone creates a surface layer of dust that was originally deposited with snowfall high on the ice sheet. This debris cover is augmented by locally derived wind-blown sediment. Subsequently, the surface dust particles often aggregate together to form centimetre-scale clumps that melt into the ice, creating cryoconite holes. The debris in the cryoconite holes becomes hidden from sunlight, raising the area-averaged albedo relative to surfaces with uniform debris cover. Spectral and broadband albedos were obtained for snow, ice hummocks, debris-covered ice, cryoconite-studded ice and barren tundra surfaces. Broadband ice albedos varied from 0.2 (for ice with heavy loading of uniform debris) to 0.6 (for ice hummocks with cryoconite holes). The cryoconite material itself has albedo 0.1 when wet. Areal distribution of the major surface types was estimated visually from a transect video as a function of distance from the ice edge (330 m a.s.l.). Ablation rates were measured along a transect from the ice margin to the slush zone 8 km from the margin (550 m a.s.l.), traversing both Pleistocene and Holocene ice. Ablation rates in early August averaged 2 cm d−1. Impurity concentrations were typically 4.3 mg L−1 in the subsurface ice. Surface concentrations were about 16 g m−2 on surfaces with low impurity loading, and heavily loaded surfaces had concentrations as high as 1.4 kg m−2. The mineralogical composition of the cryoconite material is comparable with that of the surrounding soils and with dust on a snowdrift in front of the ice margin, implying that much of the material is derived from local sources. A fine mode (clay) is present in the oldest ice but not in the nearby soil, suggesting that its origin is from wind deposition during Pleistocene glaciation.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      The ablation zone in northeast Greenland: ice types, albedos and impurities
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      The ablation zone in northeast Greenland: ice types, albedos and impurities
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      The ablation zone in northeast Greenland: ice types, albedos and impurities
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

References

Hide All
Adhikary, S., Nakawo, M., Seko, K. and Shakya, B.. 2000. Dust influence on the melting process of glacier ice: experimental results from Lirung Glacier, Nepal Himalayas. IAHS Publ. 264 (Symposium at Seattle 2000 – Debris-Covered Glaciers), 4352.
Ambach, W. and Markl, G.. 1983. Untersuchungen zum Strahlungshaushalt in der Akkumulationszone des grönländischen Inlandeises (Station Carrefour 69°49′25″ N, 47°25′57″ W, 1850 m). Medd. Grønl., 187(6).
Bader, H. 1961. The Greenland ice sheet. CRREL Monogr. I–B2.
Benson, C.S. 1960. Stratigraphic studies in the snow and firn of the Greenland ice sheet. (PhD thesis, California Institute of Technology.)
Biscaye, P.E. and 6 others. 1997. Asian provenance of glacial dust (stage 2) in the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 ice core, Summit, Greenland. J. Geophys. Res., 102(C12), 26,76526,781.
Bøggild, C.E. 1998. Different melt regimes indicated by surface albedo measurements at the Greenland ice sheet margin – application of TM image. EARSeL Adv. Remote Sens., Yearbook 1997, 5, 8288.
Bøggild, C.E., Oerter, H. and Tukiainen, T.. 1996. Increased ablation of Wisconsin ice in eastern north Greenland: observations and modelling. Ann. Glaciol., 23, 144148.
Bohren, C.F. 1987. Multiple scattering at the beach. In Clouds in a glass of beer: simple experiments in atmospheric physics. New York, Wiley, 113119.
Box, J.E. and 8 others. 2006. Greenland ice sheet surface mass balance variability (1988–2004) from calibrated Polar MM5 output. J. Climate, 19(12), 27832800.
Brandt, R.E., Warren, S.G., Worby, A.P. and Grenfell, T.C.. 2005. Surface albedo of the Antarctic sea ice zone. J. Climate, 18(17), 36063622.
Brown, K.J. and Pasternack, G.B.. 2004. The geomorphic dynamics and environmental history of an upper deltaic floodplain tract in the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, California, USA. Earth Surf. Process. Landf., 29(10), 12351258.
Condit, H.R. 1970. The spectral reflectance of American soils. Photogramm. Eng., 36(9), 955966.
De Angelis, M., Steffensen, J.P., Legrand, M., Clausen, H. and Hammer, C.. 1997. Primary aerosol (sea salt and soil dust) deposited in Greenland ice during the last climatic cycle: comparison with East Antarctic records. J. Geophys. Res., 102(C12), 26,68126,698.
Duynkerke, P.G. and van den Broeke, M.R.. 1994. Surface energy balance and katabatic flow over glacier and tundra during GIMEx-91. Global Planet. Change, 9(1–2), 1728.
Gajda, R.T. 1958. Cryoconite phenomena on the Greenland Ice Cap in the Thule area. Can. Geogr., 3(12), 3544.
Gerdel, R.W. and Drouet, F.. 1960. The cryoconite of the Thule area, Greenland. Trans. Am. Microsc. Soc., 79, 256272.
Grenfell, T.C. and Perovich, D.K.. 1981. Radiation absorption coefficients of polycrystalline ice from 400–1400 nm. J. Geophys. Res., 86(C8), 74477450.
Grenfell, T.C. and Perovich, D.K.. 1984. Spectral albedos of sea ice and incident solar irradiance in the southern Beaufort Sea. J. Geophys. Res., 89(C3), 35733580.
Grenfell, T.C., Warren, S.G. and Mullen, P.C.. 1994. Reflection of solar radiation by the Antarctic snow surface at ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared wavelengths. J. Geophys. Res., 99(D9), 18,66918,684.
Greuell, W. 2000. Melt-water accumulation on the surface of the Greenland ice sheet: effect on albedo and mass balance. Geogr. Ann., Ser. A, 82(4), 489498.
Greuell, W. and Knap, W.H.. 2000. Remote sensing of the albedo and detection of the slush line on the Greenland ice sheet. J. Geophys. Res., 105(D12), 15,56715,576.
Greuell, J.W. and Konzelmann, T.. 1994. Numerical modeling of the energy balance and the englacial temperature of the Greenland ice sheet: calculations for the ETH-Camp location (West Greenland, 1155 m a.s.l.). Global Planet. Change, 9(1–2), 91114.
Gribbon, P.W.F. 1979. Cryoconite holes on Sermikavsak, West Greenland. J. Glaciol., 22(86), 177181.
Hale, G.M. and Query, M.R.. 1973. Optical constants of water in the 200-nm to 200-μm wavelength region. Appl. Opt., 12(3), 555563.
Hanna, E., Huybrechts, P., Janssens, I., Cappelen, J., Steffen, K. and Stephens, A.. 2005. Runoff and mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet: 1958–2003. J. Geophys. Res., 110(D13), D13108. (10.1029/2004JD005641.)
Henneken, E.A.C., Bink, N.J., Vugts, H.F., Cannemeijer, F. and Meesters, A.G.C.A.. 1994. A case study of the daily energy balance near the equilibrium line on the Greenland ice sheet. Global Planet. Change, 9(1–2), 6978.
Herman, G.F. and Curry, J.A.. 1984. Observational and theoretical studies of solar radiation in Arctic stratus clouds. J. Climate Appl. Meteorol., 23(1), 524.
Higuchi, K. and Nagoshi, A.. 1977. Effect of particulate matter in surface snow layers on the albedo of perennial snow patches. IAHS Publ. 118 (Symposium at Grenoble 1975 – Isotopes and Impurities in Snow and Ice), 9597.
Holmlund, P. and Jansson, P.. 2003. Glaciologi. Stockholm, Vetenskapsrådet & Stockholms Universitet.
Kayser, O. 1928. The inland ice. In Vahl, M., Amdrup, G.C., Bobé, L. and Jensen, Ad.S., eds. Greenland. Vol. I. Copenhagen, C.A. Reitzel, 381384.
Kindel, B.C., Qu, Z. and Goetz, A.F.H.. 2001. Direct solar spectral irradiance and transmittance measurements from 350 to 2500 nm. Appl. Opt., 40(21), 34833494.
Knap, W.H. and Oerlemans, J.. 1996. The surface albedo of the Greenland ice sheet: satellite-derived and in situ measurements in the Søndre Strømfjord area during the 1991 melt season. J. Glaciol., 42(141), 364374.
Konzelmann, T. and Braithwaite, R.J.. 1995. Variations of ablation, albedo and energy balance at the margin of the Greenland ice sheet, Kronprins Christian Land, eastern north Greenland. J. Glaciol., 41(137), 174182.
Krabill, W. and 12 others. 2004. Greenland Ice Sheet: increased coastal thinning. Geophys. Res. Lett., 31(24), L24402. (10.1029/2004GL021533.)
Lliboutry, L. 1964. Traité de glaciologie. Tome I. Paris, Masson.
MacDonell, S. and Fitzsimons, S.. 2008. The formation and hydrological significance of cryoconite holes. Progr. Phys. Geogr., 32(6), 595610.
McClatchey, R.A., Fenn, R.W., Selby, J.E.A. and Garing, J.S.. 1972. Optical properties of the atmosphere. Third edition. Hanscom, MA, Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratory. (AFCRL Rep. 72-0497.)
Mullen, P.C. and Warren, S.G.. 1988. Theory of optical properties of lake ice. J. Geophys. Res., 93(D7), 84038414.
Oerter, H., Bøggild, C.E., Jung-Rothenhäusler, F. and Reeh, N.. 1995. Glaciological fieldwork in Kronprins Christian Land: results from 1994. Geol. Surv. Greenland Open File Ser. 95 /5, 97105.
Paterson, W.S.B. 1994. The physics of glaciers. Third edition. Oxford, etc., Elsevier.
Rignot, E. and Kanagaratnam, P.. 2006. Changes in the velocity structure of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Science, 311(5673), 986990.
Serreze, M. and Barry, R.G.. 2005. The Arctic climate system. Cambridge, etc., Cambridge University Press.
Sharp, R.P. 1949. Studies of superglacial debris on valley glaciers. Am. J. Sci., 247(5), 289315.
Sun, D. and 6 others. 2002. Grain-size distribution function of polymodal sediments in hydraulic and aeolian environments, and numerical partitioning of the sedimentary components. Sediment. Geol., 152(3–4), 263277.
Thorsteinsson, T., Kipfstuhl, J. and Miller, H.. 1997. Textures and fabrics in the GRIP ice core. J. Geophys. Res., 102(C12), 26,58326,599.
Tsay, S.C. and Jayaweera, K.. 1984. Physical characteristics of Arctic stratus clouds. J. Climate Appl. Meteorol., 23(4), 584596.
Twomey, S.A., Bohren, C.F. and Mergenthaler, J.L.. 1986. Reflectance and albedo differences between wet and dry surfaces. Appl. Opt., 25(23), 431437.
Van de Wal, R.S.W. and 11 others. 1995. Mass balance measurements in the Søndre Strømfjord area in the period 1990–1994. Z. Gletscherkd. Glazialgeol., 31(1–2), 5763.
Van den Broeke, M., Smeets, P., Ettema, J. and Munneke, P.K.. 2008. Surface radiation balance in the ablation zone of the west Greenland ice sheet. J. Geophys. Res., 113(D13), D13105. (10.1029/2007JD009283.)
Warren, S.G. and Brandt, R.E.. 2008. Optical constants of ice from the ultraviolet to the microwave: a revised compilation. J. Geophys. Res., 113(D14), D14220. (10.1029/2007JD009744.)
Weidick, A. 1995. Greenland. In Williams, R.S. and Ferrigno, J., eds. Satellite image atlas of glaciers of the world. Denver, CO, US Geological Survey, C1C105. (USGS Professional Paper 1386-C.)
Weidick, A., Böggild, C.E. and Knudsen, N.T.. 1992. Glacier inventory and atlas of West Greenland. Rapp. Grønl. Geol. Unders. 158.
Wilson, R. 1980. Reference materials of defined particle size certified recently by the community bureau of reference of the European Economic Community. Powder Tech., 27(1), 3743.
Wiscombe, W.J., Welch, R.M. and Hall, W.D.. 1984. The effects of very large drops on cloud absorption. Part I. Parcel models. J. Atmos. Sci., 41(8), 13361355.
Zwally, H.J., Abdalati, W., Herring, T., Larson, K., Saba, J. and Steffen, K.. 2002. Surface melt-induced acceleration of Greenland ice-sheet flow. Science, 297(5579), 218222.
Zwally, H.J. and 7 others. 2005. Mass changes of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and shelves and contributions to sea-level rise: 1992–2002. J. Glaciol., 51(175), 509527.

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed