Articles | Volume 9, issue 1
Brief communication
15 Jan 2015
Brief communication |  | 15 Jan 2015

Brief Communication: Sudden drainage of a subglacial lake beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet

I. M. Howat, C. Porter, M. J. Noh, B. E. Smith, and S. Jeong

Related authors

Basal channels, ice thinning and grounding zone retreat at Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica
Allison M. Chartrand, Ian M. Howat, Ian R. Joughin, and Benjamin E. Smith
EGUsphere,,, 2024
Short summary
Filling and drainage of a subglacial lake beneath the Flade Isblink ice cap, northeast Greenland
Qi Liang, Wanxin Xiao, Ian Howat, Xiao Cheng, Fengming Hui, Zhuoqi Chen, Mi Jiang, and Lei Zheng
The Cryosphere, 16, 2671–2681,,, 2022
Short summary
The Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica
Ian M. Howat, Claire Porter, Benjamin E. Smith, Myoung-Jong Noh, and Paul Morin
The Cryosphere, 13, 665–674,,, 2019
Short summary
Seasonal to decadal variability in ice discharge from the Greenland Ice Sheet
Michalea D. King, Ian M. Howat, Seongsu Jeong, Myoung J. Noh, Bert Wouters, Brice Noël, and Michiel R. van den Broeke
The Cryosphere, 12, 3813–3825,,, 2018
Short summary
Autonomous ice sheet surface mass balance measurements from cosmic rays
Ian M. Howat, Santiago de la Peña, Darin Desilets, and Gary Womack
The Cryosphere, 12, 2099–2108,,, 2018
Short summary

Related subject area

Mapping the vertical heterogeneity of Greenland's firn from 2011–2019 using airborne radar and laser altimetry
Anja Rutishauser, Kirk M. Scanlan, Baptiste Vandecrux, Nanna B. Karlsson, Nicolas Jullien, Andreas P. Ahlstrøm, Robert S. Fausto, and Penelope How
The Cryosphere, 18, 2455–2472,,, 2024
Short summary
First results of the polar regional climate model RACMO2.4
Christiaan T. van Dalum, Willem Jan van de Berg, Srinidhi N. Gadde, Maurice van Tiggelen, Tijmen van der Drift, Erik van Meijgaard, Lambertus H. van Ulft, and Michiel R. van den Broeke
EGUsphere,,, 2024
Short summary
Modelling present and future rock wall permafrost distribution in the Sisimiut mountain area, West Greenland
Marco Marcer, Pierre-Allain Duvillard, Soňa Tomaškovičová, Steffen Ringsø Nielsen, André Revil, and Thomas Ingeman-Nielsen
The Cryosphere, 18, 1753–1771,,, 2024
Short summary
Subglacial valleys preserved in the highlands of south and east Greenland record restricted ice extent during past warmer climates
Guy J. G. Paxman, Stewart S. R. Jamieson, Aisling M. Dolan, and Michael J. Bentley
The Cryosphere, 18, 1467–1493,,, 2024
Short summary
Coupling MAR (Modèle Atmosphérique Régional) with PISM (Parallel Ice Sheet Model) mitigates the positive melt–elevation feedback
Alison Delhasse, Johanna Beckmann, Christoph Kittel, and Xavier Fettweis
The Cryosphere, 18, 633–651,,, 2024
Short summary

Cited articles

Bartholomew, I., Nienow, P., Sole, A., Mair, D., Cowton, T., Palmer, S., and Wadham, J.: Supraglacial forcing of subglacial drainage in the ablation zone of the Greenland ice sheet, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L08502,, 2011.
Borsa, A. A., Moholdt, G., Fricker, H. A., and Brunt, K. M.: A range correction for ICESat and its potential impact on ice-sheet mass balance studies, The Cryosphere, 8, 345–357,, 2014.
Chandler, D. M., Wadham, J. L., Lis, G. P., Cowton, T., Sole, A., Bartholomew, I., Telling, J., Nienow, P., Bagshaw, E. B., Mair, D., Vinen, S., and Hubbard, A.: Evolution of the subglacial drainage system beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet revealed by tracers, Nature Geosci., 6, 195–198, 2013.
Clarke, G. C.: Glaciology: Ice-sheet Plumbing in Antarctica, Nature, 440, 1000–1001,, 2006.
Cuffey, K. M. and Paterson, W. S. B.: The Physics of Glaciers, 4, Butterworth-Heinemann, Amsterdam, 72–73, 2010.
Short summary
In the summer of 2011, a large crater appeared in the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet. It formed when a subglacial lake, equivalent to 10,000 swimming pools, catastrophically drained in less than 14 days. This is the first direct evidence that surface meltwater that drains through cracks to the bed of the ice sheet can build up in subglacial lakes over long periods of time. The sudden drainage may have been due to more surface melting and an increase in meltwater reaching the bed.