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Sudden increase in tidal response linked to calving and acceleration at a large Greenland outlet glacier

Authors


Abstract

[1] Large calving events at Greenland's largest outlet glaciers are associated with glacial earthquakes and near-instantaneous increases in glacier flow speed. At some glaciers and ice streams, flow is also modulated in a regular way by ocean tidal forcing at the terminus. At Helheim Glacier, analysis of geodetic data shows decimeter-level periodic position variations in response to tidal forcing. However, we also observe transient increases of more than 100% in the glacier's responsiveness to such tidal forcing following glacial-earthquake calving events. The timing and amplitude of the changes correlate strongly with the step-like increases in glacier speed and longitudinal strain rate associated with glacial earthquakes. The enhanced response to the ocean tides may be explained by a temporary disruption of the subglacial drainage system and a concomitant reduction of the friction at the ice-bedrock interface, and suggests a new means by which geodetic data may be used to infer glacier properties.

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