Rapid iceberg calving following removal of tightly packed pro-glacial mélange

Surui Xie, Timothy H. Dixon, David Holland, Denis Voytenko, Irena Vaňková

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Iceberg calving is a major contributor to Greenland’s ice mass loss. Pro-glacial mélange (a mixture of sea ice, icebergs, and snow) may be tightly packed in the long, narrow fjords that front many marine-terminating glaciers and can reduce calving by buttressing. However, data limitations have hampered a quantitative understanding. We develop a new radar-based approach to estimate time-varying elevations near the mélange-glacier interface, generating a factor of three or more improvement in elevation precision. We apply the technique to Jakobshavn Isbræ, Greenland’s major outlet glacier. Over a one-month period in early summer 2016, the glacier experienced essentially no calving, and was buttressed by an unusually thick mélange wedge that increased in thickness towards the glacier front. The extent and thickness of the wedge gradually decreased, with large-scale calving starting once the mélange mass within 7 km of the glacier front had decreased by >40%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3250
JournalNature communications
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

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icebergs
Ice Cover
Glaciers
glaciers
Greenland
wedges
Sea ice
sea ice
Ice
snow
Snow
outlets
stopping
Radar
summer
radar
Estuaries
ice
estimates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Cite this

Rapid iceberg calving following removal of tightly packed pro-glacial mélange. / Xie, Surui; Dixon, Timothy H.; Holland, David; Voytenko, Denis; Vaňková, Irena.

In: Nature communications, Vol. 10, No. 1, 3250, 01.12.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Xie, Surui ; Dixon, Timothy H. ; Holland, David ; Voytenko, Denis ; Vaňková, Irena. / Rapid iceberg calving following removal of tightly packed pro-glacial mélange. In: Nature communications. 2019 ; Vol. 10, No. 1.
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