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Volume 9, issue 4
The Cryosphere, 9, 1333-1342, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-9-1333-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
The Cryosphere, 9, 1333-1342, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-9-1333-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 13 Jul 2015

Research article | 13 Jul 2015

Wintertime storage of water in buried supraglacial lakes across the Greenland Ice Sheet

L. S. Koenig1,a, D. J. Lampkin2, L. N. Montgomery2, S. L. Hamilton3, J. B. Turrin4, C. A. Joseph2, S. E. Moutsafa5, B. Panzer6, K. A. Casey1,7, J. D. Paden6, C. Leuschen6, and P. Gogineni6 L. S. Koenig et al.
  • 1Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA
  • 2Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA
  • 3Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME, USA
  • 4Department of Geography, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
  • 5Department of Geography, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ, USA
  • 6Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA
  • 7Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA
  • anow at: National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA

Abstract. Increased surface melt over the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) is now estimated to account for half or more of the ice sheet's total mass loss. Here, we show that some meltwater is stored, over winter, in buried supraglacial lakes. We use airborne radar from Operation IceBridge between 2009 and 2012 to detect buried supraglacial lakes, and we find that they were distributed extensively around the GrIS margin through that period. Buried supraglacial lakes can persist through multiple winters and are, on average, ~ 1.9 + 0.2 m below the surface. Most buried supraglacial lakes exist with no surface expression of their occurrence in visible imagery. The few buried supraglacial lakes that do exhibit surface expression have a unique visible signature associated with a darker blue color where subsurface water is located. The volume of retained water in the buried supraglacial lakes is likely insignificant compared to the total mass loss from the GrIS, but the water may have important implications locally for the development of the englacial hydrologic system and ice temperatures. Buried supraglacial lakes represent a small but year-round source of meltwater in the GrIS hydrologic system.

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The Greenland Ice Sheet is storing meltwater through the winter season just below its surface in buried supraglacial lakes. Airborne radar from Operation IceBridge between 2009 and 2012 was used to detect buried lakes, distributed extensively around the margin of the ice sheet. The volume of retained water in the buried lakes is likely insignificant compared to the total mass loss from the ice sheet but has important implications for ice temperatures.
The Greenland Ice Sheet is storing meltwater through the winter season just below its surface in...
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