GBaTSv2: a revised synthesis of the likely basal thermal state of the Greenland Ice Sheet

Joseph A. Macgregor, Winnie Chu, William T. Colgan, Mark A. Fahnestock, Denis Felikson, Nanna B. Karlsson, Sophie M.J. Nowicki, Michael Studinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The basal thermal state (frozen or thawed) of the Greenland Ice Sheet is under-constrained due to few direct measurements, yet knowledge of this state is becoming increasingly important to interpret modern changes in ice flow. The first synthesis of this state relied on inferences from widespread airborne and satellite observations and numerical models, for which most of the underlying datasets have since been updated. Further, new and independent constraints on the basal thermal state have been developed from analysis of basal and englacial reflections observed by airborne radar sounding. Here we synthesize constraints on the Greenland Ice Sheet's basal thermal state from boreholes, thermomechanical ice-flow models that participated in the Ice Sheet Model Intercomparison Project for CMIP6 (ISMIP6; Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6), IceBridge BedMachine Greenland v4 bed topography, Making Earth Science Data Records for Use in Research Environments (MEaSUREs) Multi-Year Greenland Ice Sheet Velocity Mosaic v1 and multiple inferences of a thawed bed from airborne radar sounding. Most constraints can only identify where the bed is likely thawed rather than where it is frozen. This revised synthesis of the Greenland likely Basal Thermal State version 2 (GBaTSv2) indicates that 33% of the ice sheet's bed is likely thawed, 40% is likely frozen and the remainder (28%) is too uncertain to specify. The spatial pattern of GBaTSv2 is broadly similar to the previous synthesis, including a scalloped frozen core and thawed outlet-glacier systems. Although the likely basal thermal state of nearly half (46%) of the ice sheet changed designation, the assigned state changed from likely frozen to likely thawed (or vice versa) for less than 6% of the ice sheet. This revised synthesis suggests that more of northern Greenland is likely thawed at its bed and conversely that more of southern Greenland is likely frozen, both of which influence interpretation of the ice sheet's present subglacial hydrology and models of its future evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3033-3049
Number of pages17
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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