Controls on rapid supraglacial lake drainage in West Greenland: An Exploratory Data Analysis approach

20 Mar 2018

ABSTRACTThe controls on rapid surface lake drainage on the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) remain uncertain, making it challenging to incorporate lake drainage into models of GrIS hydrology, and so to determine the ice-dynamic impact of meltwater reaching the ice-sheet bed. Here, we first use a lake area and volume tracking algorithm to identify rapidly draining lakes within West Greenland during summer 2014. Second, we derive hydrological, morphological, glaciological and surface-mass-balance data for various factors that may influence rapid lake drainage. Third, these factors are used within Exploratory Data Analysis to examine existing hypotheses for rapid lake drainage. This involves testing for statistical differences between the rapidly and non-rapidly draining lake types, as well as examining associations between lake size and the potential controlling factors. This study shows that the two lake types are statistically indistinguishable for almost all factors investigated, except lake area. Thus, we are unable to recommend an empirically supported, deterministic alternative to the fracture area threshold parameter for modelling rapid lake drainage within existing surface-hydrology models of the GrIS. However, if improved remotely sensed datasets (e.g. ice-velocity maps, climate model outputs) were included in future research, it may be possible to detect the causes of rapid drainage.