Estimating the basal melt rate at NorthGRIP using a Monte Carlo technique

Annals of Glaciology, Vol. 45, p. 137-142, 2007

S.L. Buchardt and D. Dahl-Jensen
Ice and Climate, The Niels Bohr Institute, Juliane Maries Vej 30, DK-2100 Copenhagen, Denmark

From radio-echo sounding (RES) surveys and ice core data it can be seen that the ice sheet is melting at the base in a large area in Northern Greenland. The RES images reveal internal layers in the ice. The layers are former deposition surfaces and are thus isochrones. Undulations of the isochrones in regions where the base is smooth suggest that the basal melt rate changes over short distances. This indicates that the geothermal heat flux is very high and has large spatial variability in Northern Greenland. In this study, the basal melt rate at the NorthGRIP drill site in North-Central Greenland is calculated by inverse modelling. We use simple one- and two-dimensional flow models to simulate the ice flow along the NNW-trending ice ridge leading to NorthGRIP. The accumulation is calculated from a dynamical model. Several ice flow parameters are unknown and must be estimated along with the basal melt rate using a Monte Carlo method. The Monte Carlo inversion is constrained by the observed isochrones, dated from the timescale established for the NorthGRIP ice core. The estimates of the basal melt rates around NorthGRIP are obtained from both the one- and two-dimensional models. Combining the estimated basal melt rates with the observed borehole temperatures allows us to convert the basal melt rates to geothermal heat flow values. From the two-dimensional model we find the basal melt rate and geothermal heat flux at NorthGRIP to be 6.1 mm a-1 and 129 mW m-2, respectively.