Integrated hydrology and glacier dynamics: Key outcomes from the RESPONDER project on Store glacier, Greenland

P. Christoffersen, B. Hubbard, M. H. Bougamont, S. H. Doyle, C. Schoonman, T. R. Chudley, R. Law, S. Cook

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Fast flowing outlet glaciers drain the Greenland Ice Sheet by transporting ice from the interior to its marine-terminating margins. In contrast to the widely studied land-terminating ice margin, where flow has decreased over the last several decades, outlet glaciers are flowing faster, posing a global risk of accelerated sea level rise. Here we report outcomes from the interdisciplinary RESPONDER project, focusing on Store Glacier in West Greenland. Using GPS-assisted drones with high accuracy, we tracked meltwater pathways and found surface water to descend rapidly to the bed when supraglacial lakes are intercepted by extensional fractures forming along pre-existing structural weaknesses. The subglacial drainage path was located initially through hydropotential analysis and subsequently by the frequency of tremors and icequakes recorded in a passive seismic network, while GPSs recorded uplift. We used a hot-water drill to gain access to the bed at specific targets, which included the shore of a rapidly draining lake, and the drained lake floor where a moulin subsequently delivered a significant, but varying supply of surface water to the basal drainage system. The basal water pressures were high, sometimes above floatation. The pressures also varied according to moulin discharge, with in-phase variations reflecting hydrological connectivity at the bed, whereas out-of-phase variations in a borehole just 50 m away reflect a purely mechanical response there. We report deep crevasse penetration from optical televiewing as well as outcomes from distributed temperature sensing with a fiber optic cable, in what may be the first glaciological application in Greenland. This experiment revealed so far unidentified englacial heat sources and a 100-m-thick layer of basal temperate ice, which may have formed from energy originating at the surface.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2019
EventAmerican Geophysical Union Fall Meeting - Moscone Convention Center, San Francisco, United States of America
Duration: 09 Dec 201913 Dec 2019
Conference number: 2019


ConferenceAmerican Geophysical Union Fall Meeting
Abbreviated titleAGU
Country/TerritoryUnited States of America
CitySan Francisco
Period09 Dec 201913 Dec 2019


  • 0720 Glaciers
  • 0726 Ice sheets
  • 0730 Ice streams
  • 0776 Glaciology


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