Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

A new cycle of jökulhlaups at Russell Glacier, Kangerlussuaq, West Greenland

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Andrew RussellORCiD, Dr Meredith Williams



Jokulhlaups in 2007 and 2008 from an ice-dammed lake at the northern margin of Russell Glacier, West Greenland, marked the onset of a renewed jokulhlaup cycle after 20 years of stability. We present a record of successive ice-dammed lake drainage events and associated ice-margin dynamics spanning similar to 25 years. Robust calculations of lake volumes and peak discharges are made, based on intensive field surveys and utilizing high-spatial-resolution orthophotographs of the lake basin and ice margin. These data enable identification of controls on the behaviour of the ice-dammed lake and provide the first field-based examination of controls on jokulhlaup magnitude and frequency for this system. We find that Russell Glacier jokulhlaups have a much higher peak discharge than predicted by the Clague-Mathews relationship, which we attribute to an unusually short englacial/subglacial routeway and the presence of a thin ice dam that permits incomplete sealing of jokulhlaup conduits between lake drainage events. Additionally, we demonstrate that the passage of jokulhlaups through an interlinked system of proglacial bedrock basins produces significant attenuation of peak discharge downstream. We highlight that improved understanding of jokulhlaup dynamics requires accurate information about ice-dammed lake volume and ice-proximal jokulhlaup discharge.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Williams M; Russell AJ; Carrivick JL; Ingeman-Nielsen T; Yde JC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Glaciology

Year: 2011

Volume: 57

Issue: 202

Pages: 238-246

Print publication date: 01/04/2011

Date deposited: 18/06/2014

ISSN (print): 0022-1430

ISSN (electronic): 1727-5652

Publisher: International Glaciological Society


DOI: 10.3189/002214311796405997


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name
School of Geography
ARC-0612533US National Science Foundation