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We investigate unusual discontinuous glacier motion on Thompson Glacier, Umingmat Nunaat, Arctic Canada, using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images and ice-flow modeling. A novel intensity-rescaling scheme is developed to reduce errors in high-resolution speckle tracking, resulting in a ~25% improvement in accuracy. Interferometric SAR (InSAR) and speckle tracking using high resolution RADARSAT-2 data indicate velocity discontinuities of up to 1 cm d−1 across deep and longitudinally extensive supraglacial channels on Thompson Glacier. We use a cross-sectional finite-element ice-flow model to determine the conditions under which velocity discontinuities of the observed magnitude and signature are possible. The modeling suggests that discontinuous motion across (long and straight) supraglacial channels can occur without ice fracture and under a wide variety of glacier thermal structures, including in fully temperate glaciers. Despite the wide range of conditions conducive to discontinuous motion, the form we observe requires that the associated channels be deep, longitudinally extensive and located in regions of lateral shearing. We speculate that these combined conditions are rare except on polythermal glaciers, where drainage features such as moulins are comparatively scarce and lower deformation rates allow channels to incise consistently and persist over many years.
Refreezing of meltwater in firn is a major component of Greenland ice-sheet's mass budget, but in situ observations are rare. Here, we compare the firn density and total ice layer thickness in the upper 15 m of 19 new and 27 previously published firn cores drilled at 15 locations in southwest Greenland (1850–2360 m a.s.l.) between 1989 and 2019. At all sites, ice layer thickness covaries with density over time and space. At the two sites with the earliest observations (1989 and 1998), bulk density increased by 15–18%, in the top 15 m over 28 and 21 years, respectively. However, following the extreme melt in 2012, elevation-detrended density using 30 cores from all sites decreased by 15 kg m−3 a−1 in the top 3.75 m between 2013 and 2019. In contrast, the lowest elevation site's density shows no trend. Thus, temporary build-up in firn pore space and meltwater infiltration capacity is possible despite the long-term increase in Greenland ice-sheet melting.
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