SHEAR WEAKENING DUE TO DRAINGE FROM WATER-FILLED CREVASSES ALONG THE MARGINS OF JAKOBSHAVN ISBRÆ
Friday, 19 December 2014
Several marine-terminating outlet glaciers on the Greenland Ice Sheet have undergone dynamic thinning, acceleration, and retreat, largely driven by ocean-ice interactions at the glacier terminus. Commensurate with these changes, surface melt rates are also increasing, resulting in enhanced runoff and infiltration known to influence regional ice velocity and mass flux. In particular, Jakobshavn Isbræ has experienced some of the most dramatic changes relative to the other major outlet glaciers largely responsible for Greenland’s contribution to sea level rise. The fast-flowing trunk of Jakobshavn Isbræ is well within the ablation zone and is exposed to significant accumulated runoff and drainage from water-filled crevasses within the shear margins during the summer. The impact of drainage from these structures on Jakobshavn’s response to terminus instability is not well understood. There are seven major water-filled crevasse regions along the margins, with the largest demonstrating potential drainage volume on order of that from large supraglacial lakes. This effort explores the impact of meltwater injection on shear-margin weakening. Meltwater can reduce lateral drag through enhanced sliding due to distributed basal lubrication or reduced ice viscosity due to cryo-hyrologic warming. The finite-element Ice Sheet System Model (ISSM) was used to evaluate the impact of meltwater input into the shear margins on basal sliding and ice stiffness. Ratios of misfit between modeled and measured velocity for inversions of basal friction and ice viscosity show a shift from basal friction-to-viscosity dominated conditions from the winter to the summer, at locations where water-filled crevasses exist. Forward models were perturbed to evaluate the magnitude of shear weakening due to enhanced sliding versus changes in ice hardness.