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Science. 2002 Jul 12;297(5579):218-22. Epub 2002 Jun 6.

Surface melt-induced acceleration of Greenland ice-sheet flow.

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  • 1Oceans and Ice Branch, Code 971, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA.


Ice flow at a location in the equilibrium zone of the west-central Greenland Ice Sheet accelerates above the midwinter average rate during periods of summer melting. The near coincidence of the ice acceleration with the duration of surface melting, followed by deceleration after the melting ceases, indicates that glacial sliding is enhanced by rapid migration of surface meltwater to the ice-bedrock interface. Interannual variations in the ice acceleration are correlated with variations in the intensity of the surface melting, with larger increases accompanying higher amounts of summer melting. The indicated coupling between surface melting and ice-sheet flow provides a mechanism for rapid, large-scale, dynamic responses of ice sheets to climate warming.

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