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Time Scale for Rapid Draining of a Surficial Lake Into the Greenland Ice Sheet

Rice, James R. and Tsai, Victor C. and Fernandes, Matheus C. and Platt, John D. (2015) Time Scale for Rapid Draining of a Surficial Lake Into the Greenland Ice Sheet. Journal of Applied Mechanics, 82 (7). Art. No. 071001. ISSN 0021-8936. doi:10.1115/1.4030325.

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A 2008 report by Das et al. documented the rapid drainage during summer 2006 of a supraglacial lake, of approximately 44×10^6 m^3, into the Greenland ice sheet over a time scale moderately longer than 1 hr. The lake had been instrumented to record the time-dependent fall of water level and the uplift of the ice nearby. Liquid water, denser than ice, was presumed to have descended through the sheet along a crevasse system and spread along the bed as a hydraulic facture. The event led two of the present authors to initiate modeling studies on such natural hydraulic fractures. Building on results of those studies, we attempt to better explain the time evolution of such a drainage event. We find that the estimated time has a strong dependence on how much a pre-existing crack/crevasse system, acting as a feeder channel to the bed, has opened by slow creep prior to the time at which a basal hydraulic fracture nucleates. We quantify the process and identify appropriate parameter ranges, particularly of the average temperature of the ice beneath the lake (important for the slow creep opening of the crevasse). We show that average ice temperatures 5–7  °C below melting allow such rapid drainage on a time scale which agrees well with the 2006 observations.

Item Type:Article
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Tsai, Victor C.0000-0003-1809-6672
Additional Information:© 2015 ASME. Contributed by the Applied Mechanics Division of ASME for publication in the Journal of Applied Mechanics. Manuscript received February 2, 2015; final manuscript received March 11, 2015; published online June 3, 2015. This research was supported by the Harvard University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Blue Hills Hydrology Endowment (MCF), the National Science Foundation, Office of Polar Programs, Award Nos. ANT-0739444 (June 2008 to May 2012) and 13,41499 (March 2014 to February 2017) to Harvard University.
Group:Seismological Laboratory
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Harvard UniversityUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:7
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20150625-080038328
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Official Citation:Rice JR, Tsai VC, Fernandes MC, Platt JD. Time Scale for Rapid Draining of a Surficial Lake Into the Greenland Ice Sheet. ASME. J. Appl. Mech. 2015;82(7):071001-071001-8. doi:10.1115/1.4030325
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:58593
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:25 Jun 2015 17:50
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 22:07

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