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Summary of Proposal HYD1925

TitleOutlet Glacier Variability in Central West Greenland
Investigator Stearns, Leigh - University of Kansas, Department of Geology
Team Member
Associate Professor Catania, Ginny - University of Texas, Institute for Geophysics
Senior Principal Eng Joughin, Ian - University of Washington, Applied Physics Lab
SummaryRecent changes, including the dramatic speedups (50 to 100%) of several large outlet glaciers, and increased rates of surface melting, have increased Greenland’s contribution to sea-level rise from near zero in the1990s to a current imbalance of roughly 100 to 225 Gtons/yr [e.g. Luthcke et al., 2006; Rignot and Kanagaratnam, 2006; Thomas et al., 2006; Velicogna and Wahr, 2006]. The reasons for these speedups and their connection to climate are poorly understood. This poor knowledge of the processes that influence outlet glaciers is one of the limitations on prediction of future ice sheet contributions to sea level rise that was noted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) [IPCC,2007]. The over-arching objective of this study is to understand the physical controls on mass balance of marine-terminating outlet glaciers in central western Greenland. In this area of Greenland, adjacent marine-terminating glaciers exhibit contrasting temporal changes in ice speed, terminus position, mélange properties and mass flux. We will utilize a variety of datasets to address complex questions of ice-ocean interactions; these include detailed in-situ ice, ocean and atmospheric measurements; ongoing airborne data; and archival and current remote sensing and climate reconstructions. With the help of coupled numerical models to refine interpretation, these data will be used to identify the processes that control individual glacier variability. We anticipate our findings to be scalable - that is, they will help to understand, interpret, and predict mass balance and associated coupled dynamics for other ocean-terminating glaciers using historical and modern remote-sensing observations. We request high-temporal TSX acquisitions over our study area to coincide with our field observations. These data will be processed to yield time-series of glacier velocity, which will be made available to the glaciology and other science communities. TSX scenes will be funded from the Co-Investigators recent NASA Grant (NNX12AP50G- Physical Controls on Ocean-Terminating Glacier Variability in Central West Greenland).

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