Greenland ice marginal lake evolution as a driver of ice sheet change – how important are rising lake temperatures?

Are ice-sheet marginal lakes an emerging major driver of Greenland Ice Sheet margin change? Over the past 50 years, the Arctic has warmed at more than twice the global rate and it is virtually certain that this will continue. In response to this, the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) has lost mass, and consequently the retreat of ice margins and increasing amounts of melt have led to a substantial growth in the number and size of ice-marginal lakes.

These lakes are important because their presence leads to even more ice melting and enhanced mass loss. We hypothesise that these Greenlandic lakes are warming in line with atmospheric temperatures, and that a growing number of warming lakes will have an increasingly large impact on changes at the GrIS margins – this is important work as it could make us rethink how Greenland will melt. The aim of this proposal is to characterise the temporal and spatial thermal regime of Greenlandic ice-marginal lakes, and their impact on ice margin dynamics and recession.

Grant reference
Natural Environment Research Council
Total awarded
£722,194 GBP
Start date
31 May 2023
2 years 11 months 30 days
End date
30 May 2026