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Rainfall drives rapid melt and flow of the Greenland ice sheet
According to a new study published in Nature Geoscience, the Greenland ice sheet has been shown to accelerate in response to surface rainfall and melt associated with late-summer and autumnal cyclonic weather events.
Samuel Doyle and an international team of colleagues led from Aberystwyth University's Centre for Glaciology combined records of ice motion, water pressure at the ice sheet bed, and river discharge with surface meteorology across the western margin of the Greenland ice sheet and captured the wide-scale effects of an unusual week of warm, wet weather in late August and early September, 2011.
They found that the cyclonic weather system led to extreme surface runoff – a combination of ice melt and rain – that overwhelmed the ice sheet's basal drainage system, driving a marked increase in ice flow across the entire western sector of the ice sheet and extending 140 km into the ice sheet's interior.