Dartmouth Events

Submarine melting and plume dynamics at tidewater glaciers

Research seminar with Rebecca Jackson, Assistant Professor of Marine & Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University

Friday, March 11, 2022
3:30pm – 4:30pm
Intended Audience(s): Public
Categories: Lectures & Seminars

Meeting ID: 918 4181 3544
Passcode: 555024

Around the globe, glaciers and ice sheets are shrinking and raising sea levels at an accelerating rate. Ocean warming has been implicated as a driver of glacier retreat, with submarine melting as the presumed link. However, at the termini of tidewater glaciers — where glaciers meet the ocean with a near-vertical ice cliff —  we lack observations of submarine melting or the oceanic processes that control melt. Instead, many studies rely on untested theory and parameterizations to estimate submarine melt rates. These frameworks often hinge on buoyant plumes, whose small-scale dynamics can modulate both the ocean’s impact on the glacier via submarine melting and the glacier’s impact on the ocean via buoyancy forcing.

In this talk, I will present ocean data collected near the terminus of LeConte Glacier, Alaska to probe the standard theory for plume-driven melt. In the first half, I will present surveys from autonomous kayaks that reveal ubiquitous meltwater intrusions along the terminus and propose a mechanism to explain why melt rates are significantly higher than theory predicts. In the second half, the bulk fluxes of submarine melt and subglacial discharge are evaluated across a wide range of conditions in six field campaigns to test the theoretical relationship between these two sources of freshwater. Modifications to the common melt parameterizations are explored, in an effort to improve our representation of melt in ocean-glacier models.

For more information, contact:
Ashley Parker

Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.