Ice flow and the conditions of the ice-bed interface at the onset of the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream

steven.franke [ at ]


The Northeast Greenland Ice Stream (NEGIS) is an important dynamic component contributing to the total mass balance of the Greenland ice sheet, as it reaches up to the central divide and drains 12% of the ice sheet. The ice stream geometry and surface velocities in the onset region of the NEGIS are not yet sufficiently well reproduced by ice sheet models. We present an assessment of the basal conditions of the onset region in a systematic analysis of airborne ultra-wideband radar data. Our data yield a new detailed model of ice-thickness distribution and basal topography in the upstream part of the ice stream. We observe a change from a smooth to a rougher bed where the ice stream widens from 10 to 60 km, and a distinct roughness anisotropy, indicating a preferred orientation of subglacial structures. The observation of off-nadir reflections that are symmetrical to the bed reflection in the radargrams suggests that these structures are elongated subglacial landforms, which in turn indicate potential streamlining of the bed. Together with basal water routing pathways, our observations hint to two different zones in this part of the NEGIS: an accelerating and smooth upstream region, which is collecting water, with reduced basal traction, and in the further downstream part, where the ice stream is slowing down and is widening, with a distribution of basal water towards the shear margins. Our findings support the hypothesis that the NEGIS is strongly interconnected to the subglacial water system in its onset region, but also to the subglacial substrate and morphology.

Item Type
Conference (Poster)
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Not peer-reviewed
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Event Details
AGU Fall Meeting 2020 - Online Everywhere, 01 Dec 2020 - 17 Dec 2020, Online.
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Franke, S. , Jansen, D. , Beyer, S. , Binder, T. , Neckel, N. , Dörr, N. , Paden, J. , Helm, V. , Steinhage, D. and Eisen, O. (2020): Ice flow and the conditions of the ice-bed interface at the onset of the Northeast Greenland Ice Stream , AGU Fall Meeting 2020 - Online Everywhere, Online, 1 December 2020 - 17 December 2020 .


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