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Englacial drainage structures in an East Antarctic outlet glacier

  • Thomas Schaap (a1), Michael J. Roach (a1), Leo E. Peters (a2), Sue Cook (a3), Bernd Kulessa (a4) (a5) and Christian Schoof (a6)...

Abstract

Ground-penetrating radar data acquired in the 2016/17 austral summer on Sørsdal Glacier, East Antarctica, provide evidence for meltwater lenses within porous surface ice that are conceptually similar to firn aquifers observed on the Greenland Ice Sheet and the Arctic and Alpine glaciers. These englacial water bodies are associated with a dry relict surface basin and consistent with perennial drainage into an interconnected englacial drainage system, which may explain a large englacial outburst flood observed in satellite imagery in the early 2016/17 melt season. Our observations indicate the rarely-documented presence of an englacial hydrological system in Antarctica, with implications for the storage and routing of surface meltwater. Future work should ascertain the spatial prevalence of such systems around the Antarctic coastline, and identify the degree of surface runoff redistribution and storage in the near surface, to quantify their impact on surface mass balance.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Thomas Schaap, E-mail: thomas.schaap@utas.edu.au

References

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Keywords

Englacial drainage structures in an East Antarctic outlet glacier

  • Thomas Schaap (a1), Michael J. Roach (a1), Leo E. Peters (a2), Sue Cook (a3), Bernd Kulessa (a4) (a5) and Christian Schoof (a6)...

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