Modeling of subaqueous melting in Petermann Fjord, Northwestern Greenland using an ocean general circulation model

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Cilan Cai1, Eric J Rignot1, Yun Xu1, Lu An1, Kirsty J Tinto2 and Michiel R van den Broeke3, (1)University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA, United States, (2)Columbia University, Palisades, NY, United States, (3)Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands
Basal melting of the floating tongue of Petermann Glacier, in northwestern Greenland is by far the largest process of mass ablation. Melting of the floating tongue is controlled by the buoyancy of the melt water plume, the pressure-dependence of the melting point of sea ice, and the mixing of warm subsurface water with fresh buoyant subglacial discharge. In prior simulations of this melting process, the role of subglacial discharge has been neglected because in similar configurations (floating ice shelves) in the Antarctic, surface runoff is negligible; this is however not true in Greenland. Here, we use the Mass Institute of Technology general circulation model (MITgcm) at a high spatial resolution (10 m x 10 m) to simulate the melting process of the ice shelf in 2-D. The model is constrained by ice shelf bathymetry and ice thickness (refined model in the immediate vicinity of the grounding line) from NASA Operation IceBridge (2011), ocean temperature/salinity data from Johnson et al. (2011), ocean tide height and current from the Arctic Ocean Tidal Inverse Model (AOTIM-5) by Padman and Erofeeva (2004) and subglacial discharge at the grounding line calculated by the hydrostatic potential of the ice from estimated products of the Regional Atmospheric Climate Model (RACMO) of Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI). We compare the results obtained in winter (no runoff) with summer, and the sensitivity of the results to thermal forcing from the ocean, and to the variation of tide height and current, and to the magnitude of subglacial runoff. We conclude on the impact of the ocean and surface melting on the melting regime of the floating ice tongue of Petermann. The basal melt rate increases ~20% with summer surface runoff. This work is performed under a contract with NASA Cryosphere Program.