The role of subglacial hydrology in ice streams with elevated geothermal heat flux
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The spatial distribution of geothermal heat flux (GHF) under ice sheets is largely unknown. Nonetheless, it is an important boundary condition in ice-sheet models, and suggested to control part of the complex surface velocity patterns observed in some regions. Here we investigate the effect of including subglacial hydrology when modelling ice streams with elevated GHF. We use an idealised ice stream geometry and a thermomechanical ice flow model coupled to subglacial hydrology in the Ice Sheet System Model (ISSM). Our results show that the dynamic response of the ice stream to elevated GHF is greatly enhanced when including the interactive subglacial hydrology. On the other hand, the impact of GHF on ice temperature is reduced when subglacial hydrology is included. In conclusion, the sensitivity of ice stream dynamics to GHF is likely to be underestimated in studies neglecting subglacial hydrology.