Hydrology and Bed Topography of the Greenland Ice Sheet : Last known surroundings

Sammanfattning: The increased temperatures in the Arctic accelerate the loss of land based ice stored in glaciers. The Greenland Ice Sheet is the largest ice mass in the Northern Hemisphere and holds ~10% of all the freshwater on Earth, equivalent to ~7 metres of global sea level rise. A few decades ago, the mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet was poorly known and assumed to have little impact on global sea level rise. The development of regional climate models and remote sensing of the ice sheet during the past decade have revealed a significant mass loss. To monitor how the Greenland Ice Sheet will affect sea levels in the future requires understanding the physical processes that govern its mass balance and movement. In the southeastern and central western regions, mass loss is dominated by the dynamic behaviour of ice streams calving into the ocean. Changes in surface mass balance dominate mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet in the central northern, southwestern and northeastern regions. Little is known about what the hydrological system looks like beneath the ice sheet; how well the hydrological system is developed decides the water’s impact on ice movement. In this thesis, I have focused on radar sounding measurements to map the subglacial topography in detail for a land-terminating section of the western Greenland Ice Sheet. This knowledge is a critical prerequisite for any subglacial hydrological modelling. Using the high-resolution ice thickness and bed topography data, I have made the following specific studies: First, I have analysed the geological setting and glaciological history of the region by comparing proglacial and subglacial spectral roughness. Second, I have analysed the subglacial water drainage routing and revealed a potential for subglacial water piracy between adjacent subglacial water catchments with changes in the subglacial water pressure regime. Finally, I have looked in more detail into englacial features that are commonly observed in radar sounding data from western Greenland. In all, the thesis highlights the need not only for accurate high-resolution subglacial digital elevation models, but also for regionally optimised interpolation when conducting detailed hydrological studies of the Greenland Ice Sheet.