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Inland Migration of Crevasses on the Greenland Ice Sheet

General

Organisation
Project start
01.01.2013
Project end
31.12.2014
Type of project
ARMAP/NSF
Project theme
Cryosphere
Project topic
Cryosphere

Fieldwork / Study

Fieldwork country
Greenland (DK)
Fieldwork location

Geolocation is 0, 0

Fieldwork start
14.08.2013
Fieldwork end
21.08.2013

SAR information

Fieldwork / Study

Fieldwork country
Greenland (DK)
Fieldwork location

Geolocation is 0, 0

Fieldwork start
17.08.2013
Fieldwork end
17.08.2013

SAR information

Fieldwork / Study

Fieldwork country
Greenland (DK)
Fieldwork location

Geolocation is 0, 0

Fieldwork start
25.07.2013
Fieldwork end
02.08.2013

SAR information

Fieldwork / Study

Fieldwork country
Greenland (DK)
Fieldwork location

Geolocation is 0, 0

Fieldwork start
30.07.2014
Fieldwork end
09.08.2014

SAR information

Fieldwork / Study

Fieldwork country
Greenland (DK)
Fieldwork location

Geolocation is 0, 0

Fieldwork start
07.08.2014
Fieldwork end
07.08.2014

SAR information

Fieldwork / Study

Fieldwork country
Greenland (DK)
Fieldwork location

Geolocation is 0, 0

Fieldwork start
11.09.2014
Fieldwork end
19.09.2014

SAR information

Project details

02.06.2019
Science / project plan

.

Science / project summary
The surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet experienced unprecedented melting during the 2012 summer, capping a decade of summers with above average melt extent and duration. Melting covered ~97% of the ice sheet during its 2012 peak and lasted almost two months longer than the 1979-2011 average. This sustained intensified melt has led to down-wasting of the surface, and has also played a role in accelerated ice flow by supplying runoff to enhance subglacial sliding. Altogether, melting has accounted for about half of the ice sheet's increased contribution to sea level rise in the last decade. Reports of surface cracks appearing at hitherto crevasse-free locations on the ice sheet have coincided with the intensified melt. These cracks can act as nascent pathways for the delivery of surface meltwater to the ice sheet bed, which might promote the inland propagation of accelerated ice flow and may lead to additional surface cracking. Their occurrence also constitutes a potential hazard to safe logistic operations (aircraft landing, surface traversing). Improved predictions of the ice sheet's response to future climate forcings as well as the ability to make informed long-term planning decisions about logistic activities in Greenland require an understanding of the processes responsible for the appearance of new surface cracks and an assessment of the likelihood that their distribution will increase with time. Intellectual Merit: The results of this project will yield new insights on seasonal patterns in flow speed along a transect extending from the ice sheet margin, where melting is extensive, to close to the summit divide, where melting occurs only occasionally. It will allow us to understand the relative effects of meltwater-induced acceleration and longitudinal flow coupling on the overall behavior of the ice sheet. The work will also advance knowledge of the processes generating surface fractures and crevasses on glaciers and ice sheets. Broader Impacts: Project findings will contribute to understanding the Greenland Ice Sheet's response to extreme climate forcing. This is a matter of global societal concern because changes in ice sheet mass balance play a major role in modulating sea level. Results of this work will also impact planning for future logistic activities in support of scientific research in Greenland and Antarctica. Raven is the primary skiway training facility for aircrews tasked with providing support in both polar regions; if training activities are curtailed in Greenland, a lack of properly certified aircrews will have a significant negative impact on the US Antarctic Program. This project will help assess the ongoing viability of the Raven training site and contribute to the search for potential new Greenland training sites
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