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Title: Role of discrete water recharge from supraglacial drainage systems in modeling patterns of subglacial conduits in Svalbard glaciers
Authors: Decaux, Leo
Grabiec, Mariusz
Ignatiuk, Dariusz
Jania, Jacek
Keywords: glaciers; discrete water recharge; Svalbard glaciers
Issue Date: 2019
Citation: The Cryosphere, Vol. 13 (2019), s. 735-752
Abstract: As the behavior of subglacial water plays a determining role in glacier dynamics, it requires particular attention, especially in the context of climate warming, which is increasing ablation and generating greater amounts of meltwater. On many glaciers, water flowing from the glacier’s surface is the main source of supply to the subglacial drainage system. This system is largely influenced by the supraglacial drainage system, which collects meltwater and precipitation and rapidly delivers it to discrete points in the glacier bed via moulins and crevassed areas, called water input areas (WIAs). Models of patterns of subglacial conduits mainly based on the hydrological potential gradient are still regularly performed without taking into account the supraglacial drainage system. We modeled the pattern of subglacial channels in two glaciers located in Svalbard, the land-terminating Werenskioldbreen and the tidewater Hansbreen during the 2015 melt season.We modeled a spatial and a discrete water recharge in order to compare them. First, supraglacial catchments were determined for each WIA on a high-resolution digital elevation model using the standard watershed modeling tool in ArcGIS. Then, interpolated water runoff was calculated for all the main WIAs. Our model also accounts for several water pressure conditions. For our two studied glaciers, during the ablation season 2015, 72.5% of total runoff was provided by meltwater and 27.5% by precipitation. Changes in supraglacial drainage on a decadal timescale are observed in contrast to its nearly stable state on an annual timescale. Nevertheless, due to the specific nature of those changes, it seems to have a low impact on the subglacial system. Therefore, our models of subglacial channel are assumed to be valid for a minimum period of two decades and depend on changes in the supraglacial drainage system. Results showed that, for Svalbard tidewater glaciers with large crevassed areas, models of subglacial channels that assume spatial water recharge may be somewhat imprecise but are far from being completely incorrect, especially for the ablation zone. On the other hand, it is important to take discrete water recharge into account in the case of landterminating Svalbard glaciers with limited crevassed areas. In all cases, considering a discrete water recharge when modeling patterns of theoretical subglacial channels seems to produce more realistic results according to current knowledge.
DOI: 10.5194/tc-13-735-2019
ISSN: 1994-0424
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