Research Article

Surface Melt-Induced Acceleration of Greenland Ice-Sheet Flow

Science  12 Jul 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5579, pp. 218-222
DOI: 10.1126/science.1072708

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Abstract

Ice flow at a location in the equilibrium zone of the west-central Greenland Ice Sheet accelerates above the midwinter average rate during periods of summer melting. The near coincidence of the ice acceleration with the duration of surface melting, followed by deceleration after the melting ceases, indicates that glacial sliding is enhanced by rapid migration of surface meltwater to the ice-bedrock interface. Interannual variations in the ice acceleration are correlated with variations in the intensity of the surface melting, with larger increases accompanying higher amounts of summer melting. The indicated coupling between surface melting and ice-sheet flow provides a mechanism for rapid, large-scale, dynamic responses of ice sheets to climate warming.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: jay.zwally{at}gsfc.nasa.gov

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