Articles | Volume 17, issue 9
Research article
 | Highlight paper
13 Sep 2023
Research article | Highlight paper |  | 13 Sep 2023

Atmospheric drivers of melt-related ice speed-up events on the Russell Glacier in southwest Greenland

Timo Schmid, Valentina Radić, Andrew Tedstone, James M. Lea, Stephen Brough, and Mauro Hermann

Data sets

AWS one boom tripod Edition 3 (deprecated), V2 Robert S. Fausto, Dirk Van As, and Kenneth D. Mankoff

Ice motion measurements, south-west Greenland Ice Sheet (version 2) (Version None) A. Tedstone and P. Neinow

Modèle Atmosphérique Régional (MAR) version 3.11 regional climate model output, 1979-2019, Greenland domain, 10 kilometer (km) horizontal resolution Xavier Fettweis

ERA5 hourly data on single levels from 1940 to present H. Hersbach, B. Bell, P. Berrisford, G. Biavati, A. Horányi, J. Muñoz Sabater, J. Nicolas, C. Peubey, R. Radu, I. Rozum, D. Schepers, A. Simmons, C. Soci, D. Dee, and J.-N. Thépaut

This study demonstrates the connection between two important parts of the climate system: atmospheric conditions over the Greenland Ice Sheet and the seasonal ice flow of glaciers -- specifically a glacier in Southwest Greenland. The authors use GPS measurements to identify more than 40 cases of speed up of the glacier. The majority of the observed speed up can be linked to the melting of the surface of the ice. In particular, the study shows that atmospheric rivers are linked to the strongest speed-up events. The findings have implications for the future dynamics of Greenlandic glaciers as weather patterns change intensity in response to the warming climate.
Short summary
The Greenland Ice Sheet contributes strongly to sea level rise in the warming climate. One process that can affect the ice sheet's mass balance is short-term ice speed-up events. These can be caused by high melting or rainfall as the water flows underneath the glacier and allows for faster sliding. In this study we found three main weather patterns that cause such ice speed-up events on the Russell Glacier in southwest Greenland and analyzed how they induce local melting and ice accelerations.