Trends and Variability in Observed Runoff from Land Terminating Glaciers in Greenland

Thursday, 17 December 2015: 10:35
3007 (Moscone West)
Dorthe Petersen, Asiaq, Greenland Survey, Nuuk, Greenland and Andreas P Ahlstrom, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Copenhagen, Denmark
The Greenland ice sheet is losing mass at an accelerated rate with both surface melting and iceberg discharge increasing notably over the last decade. The impact of Greenland ice sheet mass loss on the ongoing global sea level rise has raised concern and a better understanding of the reaction of the ice sheet to a future warmer climate is needed. Yet, observational records of surface melting have so far only been in the form of stake readings or short-term discharge measurements. Here we present continuous, long-term observations of discharge from pro-glacial lake Tasersiaq in West Greenland (66.3°N, 50.4°W) whose drainage basin extends over around 8500 km2 of which around 80% is ice covered (by Greenland Ice Sheet and local glaciers). The discharge time series covers the period from 1975 to 2014 and gives insight into the hydrological system’s reaction to climatic forcing, e.g. a clear impact from major volcanic eruptions is observed. Over the entire data period a significant positive trend of 0.06 km3/yr in annual discharge is seen, where the median annual discharge is 2.50 km3. In addition to the trend in annual discharge a large and increasing year-to-year variability is observed. We examine both discharge trend and variability in the context of atmospheric circulation patterns and indicators of climate variability.