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Distribution and dynamics of Greenland subglacial lakes

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Article number2810
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>26/06/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Nature Communications
Issue number1
Number of pages11
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Few subglacial lakes have been identified beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) despite extensive documentation in Antarctica, where periodic release of water can impact ice flow. Here we present an ice-sheet-wide survey of Greenland subglacial lakes, identifying 54 candidates from airborne radio-echo sounding, and 2 lakes from ice-surface elevation changes. These range from 0.2–5.9 km in length, and are mostly distributed away from ice divides, beneath relatively slow-moving ice. Based on our results and previous observations, we suggest three zones of formation: stable lakes in northern and eastern regions above the Equilibrium Line Altitude (ELA) but away from the interior; hydrologically-active lakes near the ELA recharged by surface meltwater and; small, seasonally-active lakes below the ELA, which form over winter and drain during the melt season. These observations provide important constraints on the GrIS's basal thermal regime and help refine our understanding of the subglacial hydrological system.