Cryospheric and Polar Processes Seminar
‘Water on ice at all three poles: tracking surface lakes in Greenland, Antarctica and the Himalaya” by CIRES Visiting Fellow Ian Willis
Surface lakes play an important role in the mass balance and hydrology of glaciers, ice sheets and ice shelves. It is also becoming increasingly apparent that they influence: i) the flow dynamics of the Greenland ice sheet, delivering large volumes of water to the bed when they drain by hydro-fracture, then allowing melt water to access the bed via fractures for the rest of the summer; ii) the potential stability of Antarctic ice shelves, via loading and unloading as they fill and drain, thereby initiating flexure and possible fracture; and iii) risks associated with flooding to mountain and downstream communities in High Mountain Asia. Here I discuss some of the recent work I have been involved with investigating the roles of surface lakes in a variety of settings, tracking their seasonal and longer term evolution and impacts from satellite imagery.