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Formation and development of supraglacial lakes in the percolation zone of the Greenland ice sheet

  • CHRISTINE CHEN (a1), IAN M. HOWAT (a1) and SANTIAGO DE LA PEÑA (a1)

Abstract

We examine repeat surface altimetry and radio echo observations of two supraglacial lakes in the percolation zone of the Greenland ice sheet to investigate the changes in firn conditions leading to lake formation and implications for meltwater storage within firn. Both lakes formed in 2011, when an anomalously high melt season was followed by low winter accumulation, resulting in reduced infiltration and storage in the near surface. The lakes expanded during the 2012 record melt season and retained liquid meltwater through the following winter. The lakes then contracted, with one lake slowly draining and refreezing and another rapidly draining to the subsurface. The lack of observable change in firn conditions surrounding the lakes indicates increased run-off in the near surface firn, likely along low-permeability ice layers formed during the previous melt seasons. This implies a reduced ability of the firn to absorb increased meltwater.

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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

Correspondence: Ian M. Howat <ihowat@gmail.com>

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