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Representing surface meltwater runoff in Greenland ice sheet models

General

Project start
01.01.2019
Project end
31.12.2020
Type of project
ARMAP/NSF
Project theme
Cryosphere
Project topic
Cryosphere

Fieldwork / Study

Fieldwork country
Greenland (DK)
Fieldwork region
Greenland, North-West
Fieldwork location

Geolocation is 78.63667, -69.98667

Fieldwork start
07.07.2019
Fieldwork end
11.07.2019

SAR information

Fieldwork / Study

Fieldwork country
Greenland (DK)
Fieldwork region
Greenland, Mid-West
Fieldwork location

Geolocation is 67.0179977417, -50.69400024414

Fieldwork start
06.08.2019
Fieldwork end
15.08.2019

SAR information

Fieldwork / Study

Fieldwork country
Greenland (DK)
Fieldwork region
Greenland, Mid-West
Fieldwork location

Geolocation is 67.1516, -50.0666

Fieldwork start
06.08.2019
Fieldwork end
15.08.2019

SAR information

Fieldwork / Study

Fieldwork country
Greenland (DK)
Fieldwork region
Greenland, North-West
Fieldwork location

Geolocation is 76.53199768066, -68.70300292969

Fieldwork start
04.07.2019
Fieldwork end
17.07.2019

SAR information

Project details

02.08.2019
Science / project summary

The production and transport of meltwater (runoff) is an important hydrological process operating on parts of the Greenland Ice Sheet surface today and is projected to become more prevalent in the future. Runoff generated on the ice sheet surface typically passes through moulins to the bed thus influencing basal conditions, and/or emanates from the ice edge to the ocean thus contributing to global sea level rise. The physical process of surface water runoff on ice sheets therefore warrants study, both for basic scientific understanding and to enable better representation and parameterization of ice sheet surface runoff in ice-dynamics and surface mass balance (SMB) models. This research would use remote sensing, in situ measurements, established hydrological theory, and models to address three current knowledge gaps about GrIS surface runoff. The principal scientific goals are to learn what areas of the Greenland ice sheet receive inputs of surface runoff to the bed; to improve representation of surface runoff in ice sheet models; and to assess whether supraglacial drainage patterns that form on the ice sheet surface influence ice dynamics. Researchers will achieve these goals through testing of three scientific hypotheses and a four-part work plan. In brief, the work plan would: 1) Use 2016 Sentinel-2 visible/NIR satellite imagery to create a first pan-Greenland map of surface runoff drainage pattern; 2) Obtain in situ measurements of proglacial river discharge at sites optimal for validation of climate/SMB runoff models, including a new hydro-meteorological gauging station in Inglefield Land, a uniquely advantaged, little-studied area of NW Greenland; 3) Assess and refine climate/SMB model runoff products and calibrate a classic surface water routing parameterization for use with ice sheet models; and 4) Conduct sensitivity tests to determine the influence of routing supraglacial runoff to mapped moulins in the simulations of subglacial and ice flow models. By the conclusion of the project, researchers will deliver i) a first pan-Greenland map of supraglacial drainage pattern, surface catchments, and terminal moulins, revealing where and how much observable surface runoff penetrates the ice sheet; ii) validation of climate/SMB model runoff products using in situ proglacial discharge records; iii) improved representation of GrIS surface runoff in the MERRA-2 and ISSM models; iv) a sensitivity study of the influence (or lack thereof) of surface fluvial drainage patterns on ice dynamics. The investigative team consists of university academics and civil servants with previous experience in Greenland remote sensing, field work, and/or modeling. Four summer field assistantships would introduce graduate students to Greenland. New collaborations would be established with the Geological Survey of Denmark (GEUS) and the Greenland water survey (Asiaq), including supplying automated weather station data to the Danish Programme for Monitoring of the Greenland Ice Sheet (PROMICE) to fill a gap in NW Greenland AWS coverage.

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