26 Oct 2023
 | 26 Oct 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Statistical Appraisal of Geothermal Heat Flow Observations in the Arctic

Judith Freienstein, Wolfgang Szwillus, Agnes Wansing, and Jörg Ebbing

Abstract. Geothermal heat flow is an important boundary condition for ice sheet, affecting for example basal melt rates, but for ice covered regions we only have sparse heat flow observations with partly high uncertainty. In this study, we first investigate the agreement between such point-wise heat flow observations and Solid Earth models, applying a 1D steady state approach to perform a statistical analysis for the entire Arctic region. We find that most of the continental heat flow observations have a high reliability and agreement to Solid Earth models, except a few data points, as for example the NGRIP point in Central Greenland.

For further testing, we perform a conditional simulation with focus on Greenland, in which the local characteristics of heat flow structures can be considered. Simple kriging shows that including or excluding the less reliable NGRIP point has a large influence on the surrounding heat flow. The geostatistical analysis with the conditional simulation supports the assumption that NGRIP might not only be problematic for representing a regional feature but likely is an outlier. Basal melt estimates show that such a local spot of high heat flow results in local high basal melt rates, but leads to less variation than existing geophysical models.

Judith Freienstein et al.

Status: open (until 28 Dec 2023)

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Judith Freienstein et al.

Judith Freienstein et al.


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Short summary
Geothermal heat flow influences ice sheet dynamics, making its investigation important for ice-covered regions. Here we evaluate the sparse measurements for their agreement with regional Solid Earth models as well as with a statistical approach. This shows that some points should be excluded from regional studies. In particular, the NGRIP point, which strongly influences heat flow maps and the distribution of high basal melts, should be statistically considered as an outlier.