Articles | Volume 7, issue 1
The Cryosphere, 7, 201–204, 2013
The Cryosphere, 7, 201–204, 2013

Brief communication 01 Feb 2013

Brief communication | 01 Feb 2013

Brief Communication "Expansion of meltwater lakes on the Greenland Ice Sheet"

I. M. Howat1, S. de la Peña1, J. H. van Angelen2, J. T. M. Lenaerts2, and M. R. van den Broeke2 I. M. Howat et al.
  • 1School of Earth Sciences and Byrd Polar Research Center, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  • 2Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands

Abstract. Forty years of satellite imagery reveal that meltwater lakes on the margin of the Greenland Ice Sheet have expanded substantially inland to higher elevations with warming. These lakes are important because they provide a mechanism for bringing water to the ice bed, causing sliding. Inland expansion of lakes could accelerate ice flow by bringing water to previously frozen bed, potentially increasing future rates of mass loss. Increasing lake elevations closely follow the rise of the mass balance equilibrium line over much of the ice sheet, suggesting no physical limit on lake expansion. Data are not yet available to detect a corresponding change in ice flow, and the potential effects of lake expansion on ice sheet dynamics are not included in ice sheet models.