20 Sep 2022
 | 20 Sep 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Observed and modeled moulin heads in the Pâkitsoq region of Greenland suggest subglacial channel network effects

Celia Trunz, Kristin Poinar, Lauren C. Andrews, Matthew D. Covington, Jessica Mejia, Jason Gulley, and Victoria Siegel

Abstract. In the ablation zone of land-terminating areas of the Greenland Ice Sheet, water pressures at the bed control seasonal and daily ice motion variability. During the melt season, large amounts of surface meltwater access the bed through moulins, which sustain an efficient channelized subglacial system. Water pressure within these subglacial channels can be inferred by measuring the hydraulic head within moulins. However, moulin head data are rare, and subglacial hydrology models that simulate water pressure fluctuations require water storage in moulins or subglacial channels. Neither the volume nor the location of such water storage is currently well constrained. Here, we use the Moulin Shape (MouSh) model, which quantifies time-evolving englacial storage, coupled with a subglacial channel model to simulate head measurements from a moulin in the Pâkitosq region in Greenland. We force the model with surface meltwater input calculated using field-acquired weather data. Our first-order simulations of moulin hydraulic head either over-predict the diurnal range of oscillation of the moulin head or require an unrealistically large moulin size to produce realistic head oscillation ranges. We find that to accurately match field observations of moulin head, additional subglacial water must be added to the system. We hypothesize that this additional `baseflow' represents strong subglacial network connectivity throughout the channelized system and is ultimately sourced from basal melt and non-local surface water inputs upstream.

Celia Trunz et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Review', Samuel Doyle, 18 Oct 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on tc-2022-182', Anonymous Referee #2, 18 Oct 2022

Celia Trunz et al.

Data sets

Supraglacial stream discharge measurements from six catchments within the Pâqitsoq region of Sermeq Avannarleq, western Greenland Ice Sheet 2017 -2018 Trunz, C., Mejia, J., Covington, M., Siegel, V., Conlon, B., & Gulley, J.

Model code and software

cctrunz/ModelRepo_pyMouShBaseflow_paper: Initial code for submission (v1.0.0) Trunz, C., Poinar, K., & Andrews, L. C.

Celia Trunz et al.


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Short summary
Models simulating water pressure variations at the bottom of glaciers must use large storage parameters to produce realistic results. Whether that storage occurs englacially (in moulins) or subglacially is a matter of debate. Here, we directly simulate moulin volume to constrain the storage there. We find it is not enough. Instead, subglacial processes, including basal melt and input from upstream moulins, must be responsible for stabilizing these water pressure fluctuations.