Distributed subglacial discharge drives significant submarine melt at a Greenland tidewater glacier Public Deposited

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  • Submarine melt can account for substantial mass loss at tidewater glacier termini. However, the processes controlling submarine melt are poorly understood due to limited observations of submarine termini. Here at a tidewater glacier in central West Greenland, we identify subglacial discharge outlets and infer submarine melt across the terminus using direct observations of the submarine terminus face. We find extensive melting associated with small discharge outlets. While the majority of discharge is routed to a single, large channel, outlets not fed by large tributaries drive submarine melt rates in excess of 3.0 m d⁻¹ and account for 85% of total estimated melt across the terminus. Nearly the entire terminus is undercut, which may intersect surface crevasses and promote calving. Severe undercutting constricts buoyant outflow plumes and may amplify melt. The observed morphology and melt distribution motivate more realistic treatments of terminus shape and subglacial discharge in submarine melt models.
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  • Fried, M. J., Catania, G. A., Bartholomaus, T. C., Duncan, D., Davis, M., Stearns, L. A., ... & Sutherland, D. (2015). Distributed subglacial discharge drives significant submarine melt at a Greenland tidewater glacier. Geophysical Research Letters, 42(21), 9328-9336. doi:10.1002/2015GL065806
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  • 42
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  • 21
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  • This work was completed at the University of Texas at Austin and funded by NASA grant NNX12AP50G and a seed grant from the Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin.
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