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Hydrological networks and flow of the Greenland Ice Sheet: Overview of the RESPONDER project

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Glaciers drain ice sheets by transporting ice from the interior to the coast where ice is discharged into the sea as icebergs. In Greenland, glaciers are flowing faster, posing a global risk of accelerated sea level rise. In this talk I report outcomes from the interdisciplinary RESPONDER project (www.erc-responder.eu), which is investigating hydrological networks and flow of the Greenland ice sheet. In a multi-disciplinary effect, the team combined geophysical techniques with high accuracy drone surveys in order to track the pathway of surface meltwater, including its rapid descent to the bed when fractures open and supraglacial lakes drain rapidly. The team also used a hot-water borehole drilling system to gain access to the bed at specific targets, which included the shore of a rapidly draining lake, and the drained lake floor where a hydrological connection continued to supply a significant, but variable amount of surface water directly to the basal drainage system. With sensors deployed at the bed and within the ice, the project has gained a better understanding of the basal hydrology and physical conditions that drive the fast flow of Greenland’s marine-terminating glaciers. This understanding is crucial for being able to predict Greenland’s contribution to sea level rise over the coming decades and century.

This talk is part of the Glaciology and Glacial Geology - Department of Geography series.

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