Bed Topography of Store Glacier and Fjord, Greenland from High-Resolution Gravity Data and Multi-Beam Echo Sounding

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Lu An1, Eric J Rignot1,2, Atsuhiro Muto3, Mathieu Morlighem1 and Christopher Kemp4, (1)University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA, United States, (2)NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States, (3)The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, United States, (4)TerraSond Limited, Seattle, WA, United States
Store Glacier is a major west Greenland outlet tidewater glacier draining an area of 30,000 square km into Uummannaq Fjord, and flowing at a speed of 4.8 km per year at its terminus. The bed topography of the glacier is poorly known and the fjord bathymetry was partially surveyed for the first time in August 2012. In this study, we present a new approach for the inference of the glacier bed topography, ice thickness and sea floor bathymetry using high-resolution airborne gravity data combined with other data. In August 2012, we acquired a 250 m spacing grid of free-air gravity data at a speed of 50 knots with accuracy at sub-milligal level much higher accuracy than NASA Operation IceBridge (OIB) gravity campaign with approximate 5.2 km resolution at 290 knots flying speed. In August 2012 and 2013, we used multi-beam echo sounding to survey the sea floor bathymetry in front of the glacier, extending to the calving face of the glacier. Inland, we combined radar-derived ice thickness with ice motion vectors to reconstruct the bed topography at a high resolution. Using a 3D inversion of the gravity data, we reconstruct seamless bed topography across the ice front boundary that matches interior data and sea floor bathymetry, and provides information about sediment thickness beneath and in front of the glacier. Comparison of the results with prior maps reveals vast differences. IBCAO3 bathymetry suggests an ice front grounded at sea level while the measured ice front is grounded 550 m below sea level. The seamless topography obtained across the grounding line reveals the presence of a previously unknown sill, which explains why the glacier has been so stable in the last 50 years. The results have important impacts on the interpretation of the glacier stability, and sensitivity to thermal forcing from the ocean and surface melt. This work was conducted at UCI under a contract with the Gordon and Betty More Foundation and with NASA.