Location of the lake pressure sensors and GPS receivers on the west margin of the GrIS
Figure 1. Location of the lake pressure sensors and GPS receivers on the west margin of the GrIS. LANDSAT image (17 June 2011) overlaid with the annual mean ice velocity vectors from (Joughin et al 2010) and locations of the two pressure sensors (red squares) and five GPS receivers (coloured circles, R1–R5) at Lake Half Moon (LHM) and Lake Ponting (LP). The location of Half Moon moulin is shown as a yellow star.
Supraglacial lake drainage on the Greenland ice sheet opens surface-to-bed connections, reduces basal friction, and temporarily increases ice flow velocities by up to an order of magnitude. Existing field-based observations of lake drainages and their impact on ice dynamics are limited, and focus on one specific draining mechanism. Here, we report and analyse global positioning system measurements of ice velocity and elevation made at five locations surrounding two lakes that drained by different mechanisms and produced different dynamic responses. For the lake that drained slowly (>24 h) by overtopping its basin, delivering water via a channel to a pre-existing moulin, speedup and uplift were less than half those associated with a lake that drained rapidly (~2 h) through hydrofracturing and the creation of new moulins in the lake bottom. Our results suggest that the mode and associated rate of lake drainage govern the impact on ice dynamics.