Basal conditions at Engabreen, Norway, inferred from surface measurements and inverse modelling

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Engabreen is an outlet glacier of the Svartisen Ice Cap located in Northern Norway. It is a unique glacier due to the Svartisen Subglacial Laboratory which allows direct access to the glacier bed. In this study, we combine both sub- and supraglacial observations with ice-flow modelling in order to investigate conditions at the bed of Engabreen both spatially and temporally. We use the full-Stokes model Elmer/Ice and satellite-based surface-velocity maps from 2010 and 2014 to infer patterns of basal friction. Direct measurements of basal sliding and deformation of lower layers of the ice are used to adjust the ice viscosity and provide essential input to the setup of our model and influence the interpretation of the results. We find a clear seasonal cycle in the subglacial conditions at the higher elevation region of the study area and discuss this in relation to the subglacial hydrological system. Our results also reveal an area with an overdeepening where basal friction is significantly lower than elsewhere on the glacier all year round. We attribute this to either water pooling at the base, or saturated sediments and increased strain heating at this location which softens the ice further.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Glaciology
Issue number246
Pages (from-to)555-567
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018

    Research areas

  • glacier flow, glacier modelling, ice dynamics, mountain glaciers, subglacial processes

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