Hydrological flowpaths in Arctic glacier catchments

Figure 1‌CfG Staff: Tris Irvine-Fynn

Key Collaborators: Geir Vatne (NTNU, Norway), Phil Porter (Hertfordshire), Andy Hodson (Sheffield), Nick Rutter (Northumbria), Brian Moorman (Calgary, Canada)

The hydrology of glaciers has been assumed to be well understood, and while core principles are well-described and conceptualised, there has been an increasing recognition of the complexities in the formation, location and functioning of meltwater flowpaths through glaciers (Figure 1). Because the hydrological pathways on, within and beneath glaciers are problematic to monitor and observe, researchers have used inverse methods to elucidate flowpaths from characteristics of meltwaters emerging from glaciers, or repeatedly mapping the location of drainage structures when meltwater is absent. An array of intriguing findings have been presented: hydrochemistry of meltwaters indicate microbial activity and allow unexpected flowpaths to be identified, non-linear associations between microbial cell concentrations and supraglacial discharge (Figure 2) suggest complexity in supraglacial runoff; surveys demonstrate englacial conduits can rapidly transition in shape through knickpoint recession (Figure 3); and suspended Figure 2‌sediment records for glacier streams suggests high-elevation ice margins may be important sources of sediment in deglaciating regions irrespective of glacier thermal regime.

Key publications:
TDL Irvine-Fynn, A Edwards, S Newton, H Langford, SM Rassner, J Telling, AM Anesio, AJ Hodson. 2012. Microbial cell budgets of an Arctic glacier surface quantified using flow cytometry, Environmental Microbiology, 14, 2998-3012. DOI: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2012.02876.x

TDL Irvine-Fynn, AJ Hodson, BJ Moorman, G Vatne, and AL Hubbard. 2011. Polythermal glacier hydrology: a review, Reviews of Geophysics, 49, RG4002, 37pp. DOI: 10.1029/2010RG000350

Figure 3N Rutter, A Hodson, TDL Irvine-Fynn, M Kristiansen Solas. 2011. Hydrology and hydrochemistry of a deglaciating high-Arctic catchment, Svalbard, Journal of Hydrology, 410, 1-2, 39-‌50. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2011.09.001

TDL Irvine-Fynn, AJ Hodson. 2010. Biogeochemistry and dissolved oxygen dynamics at a subglacial upwelling, Midtre Lovénbreen, Svalbard. Annals of Glaciology, 51(56): 41-46. http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/172756411795931903

PR Porter, G Vatne, FSL Ng, TDL Irvine-Fynn. 2010. Ice-marginal sediment delivery to the surface of a High-Arctic glacier: Austre Brøggerbreen, Svalbard. Geografiska Annaler,92A: 439-451. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0459.2010.00406.x