Cryosphere and Polar Science Seminar
Ice Slabs, aquifers, and crevasses that shouldn’t exist: the rapidly-emerging hydrologic regimes of Greenland’s interior ice by Dr. Mike MacFerrin, Post-doctoral Research Associate, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), University of Colorado at Boulder
Increasing summer meltwater in Greenland, punctuated by the extreme melt summers of 2019 and 2012, is fundamentally altering the hydrology of the ice sheet’s high-elevation interior. In just the past 7 years, two previously-unknown meltwater regimes have been identified in Greenland that together are reshaping our understanding of the role that firn and snow plays in an ice sheets’ response to climate change. Perennial firn aquifers store water year-round in regions of high snow accumulation, while low-permeability ice slabs form largely-impenetrable near-surface layers that inhibit water percolation and significantly enhance runoff in warm summers. These regimes were discovered only this decade, already cover nearly 10% of Greenland’s surface area combined, and are poised to dominate ever-larger regions of Greenland’s interior in a warming Arctic climate. Additionally, the recent appearances of thin crevasses in Greenland’s slow-moving interior ice raise pertinent questions about these meltwater regimes’ interplay with en-glacial and subglacial ice, which may already be affecting ice dynamics. Join Dr. MacFerrin for stories about these discoveries, future projections of them, and discussions about the rapidly-evolving and uncertain hydrologic future of Greenland’s interior ice.