Limited impact of subglacial supercooling freeze-on for Greenland Ice Sheet stratigraphy

Christine F. Dow, Nanna B. Karlsson, Mauro A. Werder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Large units of disrupted radiostratigraphy (UDR) are visible in many radio-echo sounding data sets from the Greenland Ice Sheet. This study investigates whether supercooling freeze-on rates at the bed can cause the observed UDR. We use a subglacial hydrology model to calculate both freezing and melting rates at the base of the ice sheet in a distributed sheet and within basal channels. We find that while supercooling freeze-on is a phenomenon that occurs in many areas of the ice sheet, there is no discernible correlation with the occurrence of UDR. The supercooling freeze-on rates are so low that it would require tens of thousands of years with minimal downstream ice motion to form the hundreds of meters of disrupted radiostratigraphy. Overall, the melt rates at the base of the ice sheet greatly overwhelm the freeze-on rates, which has implications for mass balance calculations of Greenland ice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1481-1489
Number of pages9
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume45
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Greenland Ice Sheet
  • ice stratigraphy
  • radio-echo sounding
  • subglacial hydrology
  • supercooling

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate

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