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Ice sheet hydrology from observations

Abstract

The hydrological systems of ice sheets are complex. Our view of the system is split, largely due to the complexity of observing the systems. Our basic knowledge of processes have been obtained from smaller glaciers and although applicable in general to the larger scales of the ice sheets, ice sheets contain features not observable on smaller glaciers due to their size. The generation of water on the ice sheet surface is well understood and can be satisfactorily modeled. The routing of water from the surface down through the ice is not complicated in terms of procat has been problematic is the way in which the couplings between surface and bed has been accomplished through a kilometer of cold ice, but with the studies on crack propagation and lake drainage on Greenland we are beginning to understand also this process and we know water can be routed through thick cold ice. Water generation at the bed is also well understood but the main problem preventing realistic estimates of water generation is lack of detailed information about geothermal heat fluxes and their geographical distribution beneath the ice. Although some average value for geothermal heat flux may suffice, for many purposes it is  More>>
Authors:
Jansson, Peter [1] 
  1. Dept. of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm Univ-, Stockholm (Sweden)
Publication Date:
Nov 15, 2010
Product Type:
Technical Report
Report Number:
SKB-TR-10-68
Resource Relation:
Other Information: 200 refs., 7 figs.
Subject:
12 MANAGEMENT OF RADIOACTIVE WASTES, AND NON-RADIOACTIVE WASTES FROM NUCLEAR FACILITIES; RADIOACTIVE WASTE DISPOSAL; UNDERGROUND DISPOSAL; ICE CAPS; GLACIERS; LAKES; HEAT FLUX; GREENLAND; ANTARCTICA; DRAINAGE; HYDROLOGY; REVIEWS
OSTI ID:
1004317
Research Organizations:
Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Co., Stockholm (Sweden)
Country of Origin:
Sweden
Language:
English
Other Identifying Numbers:
Other: ISSN 1404-0344; TRN: SE1108013
Availability:
Also available from: http://www.skb.se/upload/publications/pdf/TR-10-68webb.pdf; OSTI as DE01004317
Submitting Site:
SWDN
Size:
50 p. pages
Announcement Date:
Feb 04, 2011

Citation Formats

Jansson, Peter. Ice sheet hydrology from observations. Sweden: N. p., 2010. Web.
Jansson, Peter. Ice sheet hydrology from observations. Sweden.
Jansson, Peter. 2010. "Ice sheet hydrology from observations." Sweden.
@misc{etde_1004317,
title = {Ice sheet hydrology from observations}
author = {Jansson, Peter}
abstractNote = {The hydrological systems of ice sheets are complex. Our view of the system is split, largely due to the complexity of observing the systems. Our basic knowledge of processes have been obtained from smaller glaciers and although applicable in general to the larger scales of the ice sheets, ice sheets contain features not observable on smaller glaciers due to their size. The generation of water on the ice sheet surface is well understood and can be satisfactorily modeled. The routing of water from the surface down through the ice is not complicated in terms of procat has been problematic is the way in which the couplings between surface and bed has been accomplished through a kilometer of cold ice, but with the studies on crack propagation and lake drainage on Greenland we are beginning to understand also this process and we know water can be routed through thick cold ice. Water generation at the bed is also well understood but the main problem preventing realistic estimates of water generation is lack of detailed information about geothermal heat fluxes and their geographical distribution beneath the ice. Although some average value for geothermal heat flux may suffice, for many purposes it is important that such values are not applied to sub-regions of significantly higher fluxes. Water generated by geothermal heat constitutes a constant supply and will likely maintain a steady system beneath the ice sheet. Such a system may include subglacial lakes as steady features and reconfiguration of the system is tied to time scales on which the ice sheet geometry changes so as to change pressure gradients in the basal system itself. Large scale re-organization of subglacial drainage systems have been observed beneath ice streams. The stability of an entirely subglacially fed drainage system may hence be perturbed by rapid ice flow. In the case of Antarctic ice streams where such behavior has been observed, the ice streams are underlain by deformable sediments. It is possible that soft beds through their ability to deform and be eroded can yield quasi-stable patterns of drainage pathways that with either erosion of critical sills or filling of temporary basins may reorganize itself periodically on time scales much shorter than the reorganization of the driving stresses for ice flow. In areas where the surface generated water (melt and rain), the basally generated fluxes dwarf the influx from the surface and hence the drainage system in such areas will be dominated by surface fluxes and variations therein. Since surface fluxes have a strong seasonal variation with no influx during winter, areas experiencing surface influx will also be subject to large seasonal variations in both flux and pressure. In addition, during the melt season, fluxes and also pressures will also vary on diurnal as well as longer time frames in response to variations in air temperature that drives melt and occurrence of precipitation events. The emerging picture of glacier drainage consists of different types of models applicable to different regimes found beneath an ice sheet (with our without surface influx, ice streams, subglacial lakes). It is not, however, clear how these systems are coupled, or even if they are. This makes it inherently difficult to assess what can be expected beneath a given sector of an ice sheet without some detailed understanding of the underlying geology (geothermal fluxes), geomorphology (possible water routing) and ice properties (cold -temperate base and ice thickness)}
place = {Sweden}
year = {2010}
month = {Nov}
}