02 Mar 2021

02 Mar 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

The distribution and evolution of supraglacial lakes on the 79° N Glacier (northeast Greenland) and interannual climatic controls

Jenny V. Turton1, Philipp Hochreuther1, Nathalie Reimann1, and Manuel T. Blau2 Jenny V. Turton et al.
  • 1Institute of Geography, Friedrich-Alexander University, 90154 Erlangen, Germany
  • 2Pusan National University, Busan, South Korea

Abstract. Together with two neighbouring glaciers, the Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden glacier (also known as 79 North Glacier) drains approximately 12–16 % of the Greenland ice sheet. Supraglacial lakes (SGLs), or surface melt ponds, are a persistent summertime feature, and are thought to drain rapidly to the base of the glacier and influence seasonal ice velocity. However, seasonal development and spatial distribution of SGLs in the northeast of Greenland is poorly understood, leaving a substantial error on the estimate of melt water and its impacts on ice velocity. Using results from an automated detection of melt ponds, atmospheric and surface mass balance modelling and reanalysis products, we investigate the role of specific climatic conditions on melt onset, extent and duration from 2014 to 2019. The summers of 2016 and 2019 were characterised by above average air temperatures, particularly in June, as well as a number of rainfall events, which led to extensive melt ponds to elevations over 1400 m. Conversely, 2018 was particularly cold, with a large, accumulated snowpack, which limited the development of lakes to altitudes less than 800 m. There is evidence of inland expansion and increases in the total area of lakes compared to the early 2000s, as projected by future global warming scenarios.

Jenny V. Turton et al.

Status: open (until 27 Apr 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on tc-2021-45', Anonymous Referee #1, 04 Apr 2021 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on tc-2021-45', Anonymous Referee #2, 07 Apr 2021 reply

Jenny V. Turton et al.

Data sets

1 km high-resolution atmospheric model output from the Polar Weather Research and Forecasting (PWRF) model for northeast Greenland from 2014-2018 Turton, J. V., Mölg, T., and Collier, E.

High-resolution surface mass balance output from the COSIPY mass balance model for northeast Greenland from 2014-2018 Blau, M. T., Turton, J. V., Mölg, T., and Sauter, T.

Jenny V. Turton et al.


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Short summary
We assess the climatic controls of melt lake development, melt duration, melt extent and the spatial distribution of lakes of the 79° N Glacier. There is a large interannual variability in the areal extent of the lakes and the maximum elevation of lake development, which is largely controlled by the summertime air temperatures and the snow pack thickness. Late-summer lake development can be prompted by spikes in surface mass balance. There is some evidence of inland expansion of lakes over time.