Across much of the ablation region of the western Greenland Ice Sheet, hydro-fracture events related to supraglacial lake drainages rapidly deliver large volumes of meltwater to the bed of the ice sheet. We investigate what triggers the rapid drainage of a large supraglacial lake using a Network Inversion Filter (NIF) to invert a dense local network of GPS observations over three summers (2011-2013). The NIF is used to determine the spatiotemporal variability in ice sheet behavior (1) prior to lake drainage, and in response to (2) vertical hydro-fracture crack propagation and closure, (3) the opening of a horizontal cavity at the ice-sheet bed that accommodates the rapid injection of melt-water, and (4) extra basal slip due to enhanced lubrication. We find that the opening and propagation of each summer’s lake-draining hydro-fracture is preceded by a local stress perturbation associated with ice sheet uplift and enhanced slip above pre-drainage background velocities. We hypothesize that these precursors are associated with the introduction of meltwater to the bed through neighboring moulin systems.
- Mathematical Geoscience Seminar