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Northeast sector of the Greenland Ice Sheet to undergo the greatest inland expansion of supraglacial lakes during the 21st century

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  • Adam Igneczi
  • Andrew J. Sole
  • Stephen J. Livingstone
  • Amber Alexandra Leeson
  • Xavier Fettweis
  • Nick Selmes
  • Noel Gourmelen
  • Kate Briggs
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>28/09/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Geophysical Research Letters
Issue number18
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)9729-9738
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date23/09/16
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The formation and rapid drainage of supraglacial lakes (SGL) influences the mass balance and dynamics of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS). Although SGLs are expected to spread inland during the 21st century due to atmospheric warming, less is known about their future spatial distribution and volume. We use GrIS surface elevation model and regional climate model outputs to show that at the end of the 21st century (2070–2099) approximately 9.8 ± 3.9 km3 (+113% compared to 1980-2009) and 12.6 ± 5 km3 (+174%) of meltwater could be stored in SGLs under moderate and high representative concentration pathways (RCP 4.5 and 8.5), respectively. The largest increase is expected in the northeastern sector of the GrIS (191% in RCP 4.5 and 320% in RCP 8.5), whereas in west Greenland, where the most SGLs are currently observed, the future increase will be relatively moderate (55% in RCP 4.5 and 68% in RCP 8.5).