Bed topography of Jakobshavn Isbræ, Greenland from high-resolution gravity data

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Lu An1, Eric J Rignot1,2, Mathieu Morlighem3, John Drysdale Paden4 and David M Holland5, (1)University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA, United States, (2)Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States, (3)University of California - Irvine, Irvine, CA, United States, (4)University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, United States, (5)New York University, New York, NY, United States
Jakobshavn Isbræ (JKS) is one of the largest marine terminating outlet glaciers in Greenland, feeding a fjord about 800 m deep in the west coast. JKS sped up more than twofold since 2002 and contributed nearly 1 mm of global sea level rise during the period from 2000 to 2011. Holland et al. (2008) posit that these changes coincided with a change in ocean conditions beneath the former ice tongue, yet little is known about the depth of the glacier at its grounding line and upstream of the grounding line and the sea floor depth of the fjord is not well known either. Here, we present a new approach to infer the glacier bed topography, ice thickness and sea floor bathymetry near the grounding line of JKS using high-resolution airborne gravity data from AirGRAV. AirGRAV data were collected in August 2012 from a helicopter platform. The data combined with radio echo sounding data, discrete point soundings in the fjord and the mass conservation approach on land ice. AirGRAV acquired a 500m spacing grid of free-air gravity data at 50 knots with sub-milligal accuracy, i.e. much higher than NASA Operation IceBridge (OIB)'s 5.2km resolution at 290 knots. We use a 3D inversion of the gravity data combining our observations and a forward modeling of the surrounding gravity field, and constrained at the boundary by radar echo soundings and point bathymetry. We reconstruct seamless bed topography at the grounding line that matches interior data and the sea floor bathymetry. The results reveal the true depth at the elbow of the terminal valley and the bed reversal in the proximity of the current grounding line. The analysis provides guidelines for future gravity survey of narrow fjords in terms of spatial resolution and gravity precision. The results also demonstrate the practicality of using high resolution gravity survey to resolve bed topography near glacier snouts, in places where radar sounding has been significantly challenged in the past. The inversion results are critical to re-interpret the recent evolution of JKS and reduce uncertainties in projecting its future contribution to sea level. This work was conducted at UCI and at Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory under a contract with the Gordon and Betty More Foundation and with NASA's Cryospheric Science Program.