Preprints
https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2311.01249
https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2311.01249
17 Apr 2024
 | 17 Apr 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Viscoelastic mechanics of tidally induced lake drainage in the Amery grounding zone

Hanwen Zhang, Richard F. Katz, and Laura A. Stevens

Abstract. Drainage of supraglacial lakes to the ice-sheet bed can occur when a hydrofracture propagates downward, driven by the weight of the water in the lake. For supraglacial lakes in the grounding zones of Antarctic glaciers, the mechanics of drainage is complicated by their proximity to the grounding line. Recently, a series of supraglacial lake-drainage events through hydrofractures was observed in the Amery Ice Shelf grounding zone, East Antarctica. The lake depth at drainage varied considerably between events, raising questions about the mechanisms that induce hydrofracture, even at low lake depths. Here we use a modelling approach to investigate the contribution of tidally driven flexure to hydrofracture propagation. We model the viscoelastic response of a marine ice sheet to tides, the stresses that are induced, and the contribution of tidal stresses to hydrofracture propagation. Our results show that ocean tides and lake-water pressure together control supraglacial lake drainage through hydrofractures in the grounding zone. We give a model-based criterion that predicts supraglacial lake drainage as a function of daily maximum tidal amplitude and lake depth. Our model-based criterion agrees with remotely sensed data, indicating the importance of tidal flexure to processes associated with hydrofracturing such as supraglacial lake drainage, rifting and calving.

Hanwen Zhang, Richard F. Katz, and Laura A. Stevens

Status: open (until 29 May 2024)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
Hanwen Zhang, Richard F. Katz, and Laura A. Stevens

Model code and software

TidalHydroFrac Hanwen Zhang https://zenodo.org/doi/10.5281/zenodo.10781685

Hanwen Zhang, Richard F. Katz, and Laura A. Stevens

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Short summary
In Antarctica, supraglacial lakes are formed by melting near the grounding lines, where grounded ice sheets transition to floating ice shelves. We model the tidal flexure near the grounding lines and analyse its contribution to lake drainage through hydrofracturing. We show that tidal flexure and lake water pressure together control lake drainage in the Amery Ice Shelf, which indicates the importance of tidal stress to processes associated with hydrofracturing near the grounding lines.