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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 04 Nov 2019

Submitted as: research article | 04 Nov 2019

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Inter-comparison of surface meltwater routing models for the Greenland Ice Sheet and influence on subglacial effective pressures

Kang Yang1,2, Aleah Sommers3, Lauren C. Andrews4, Laurence C. Smith5,6,7, Xin Lu1,2, Xavier Fettweis8, and Manchun Li1,2 Kang Yang et al.
  • 1School of Geography and Ocean Science, Nanjing University, Nanjing, China
  • 2Jiangsu Provincial Key Laboratory of Geographic Information Science and Technology, Nanjing, China
  • 3Climate and Global Dynamics Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 4Global Modeling and Assimilation Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, USA
  • 5Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, Providence, RI, USA
  • 6Department of Earth, Environmental & Planetary Sciences, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA
  • 7Department of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • 8Department of Geography, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium

Abstract. Each summer, large volumes of surface meltwater flow over the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) surface and drain through moulins to the ice sheet bed, impacting subglacial hydrology and ice flow dynamics. Runoff modulations, or routing delays due to ice surface conditions, thus propagate to englacial and subglacial hydrologic systems, requiring accurate assessment to correctly estimate subglacial effective pressures and short-term lags between climatological melt production and ice velocity. This study compares hourly supraglacial moulin discharge simulations from three surface meltwater routing models, the Synthetic Unit Hydrograph (SUH), Surface Routing and Lake Filling (SRLF), and Rescaled Width Function (RWF), for four internally drained catchments (IDCs) located on the southwestern GrIS surface. Using surface runoff from the MAR regional climate model (RCM), simulated values of surface meltwater transport velocity, flow length, total transport time, unit hydrograph, peak moulin discharge, and time to peak are compared among the three routing models. For each IDC, modeled moulin hydrographs are also input to the SHAKTI subglacial hydrologic model to simulate corresponding subglacial effective pressure variations in the vicinity of a single moulin. Two routing models requiring use of a digital elevation model (SRLF, RWF) are assessed for the impact of DEM spatial resolution on simulated moulin hydrographs. Results indicate SUH, SRLF, and RWF perform differently in simulating moulin peak discharge and time to peak, with RWF simulating slower, smaller peak moulin discharges than SUH or SRLF. SRLF routing is sensitive to DEM spatial resolution, whereas RWF is not. Seasonal evolution of supraglacial stream/river networks is readily accommodated by RWF but not SUH or SRLF. In general, all three models are superior to simply using RCM output without routing, but significant differences among them are found. This variability among surface meltwater routing models is reflected in SHAKTI subglacial hydrology simulations, yielding differing diurnal effective pressure fluctuations.

Kang Yang et al.

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Kang Yang et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
This study compares hourly supraglacial moulin discharge simulations from three surface meltwater routing models. Results show that these models are superior to simply using regional climate model runoff without routing, but different routing models, different spatial-resolution DEMs, and parameterized seasonal evolution of supraglacial stream/river networks, induce significantly variability in diurnal moulin discharges and corresponding subglacial effective pressures.
This study compares hourly supraglacial moulin discharge simulations from three surface...