What is going on underneath Engabreen?

Written by Thomas Zwinger.

Engabreen, a small outlet glacier of the Svartisen ice-cap in northern Norway, is one of the few places on Earth, where glaciologists have access to the bedrock underneath the ice. Naturally, this subglacial laboratory lying under a 200 m thick ice column, makes this glacier a nice object to study the connection between ice-dynamics and basal conditions. In this paper, observations of the bedrock conditions, such as water flow and basal ice viscosity as well as the surface velocity distribution have been used as constraints to Elmer/Ice simulation runs. 


These results clearly revealed a strong seasonal cycle of basal glacier conditions. Additionally, a region of an overdeepening in the bedrock with a significantly reduced friction throughout the year has been identified. This can be linked to an existing aquifer, likely inside unfrozen sediment, at this spot.

This paper is one of the last publications resulting from the Nordic Centre of Excellence, SVALI

Read more: Solgaard, A., A. Messerli, T. Schellenberger, C. Hvidberg, A. Grinsted, M. Jackson, T. Zwinger, N.B. Karlsson, D. Dahl-Jensen, 2018. Basal conditions at Engabreen, Norway, inferred from surface measurements and inverse modelling. Journal of Glaciology, 1-13. doi:10.1017/jog.2018.45

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