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Drainage and refill of an Antarctic Peninsula subglacial lake reveal an active subglacial hydrological network

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Neil RossORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


The presence of subglacial lakes and subglacial hydrological networks under the East and West Antarctic ice sheets is now relatively well understood, whilst their influence on ice dynamics is the subject of ongoing research. In contrast, little is known about subglacial lakes and hydrological networks under the Antarctic Peninsula Ice Sheet and how these are influencing glacier behaviour. Here we describe the rapid drainage and slow refill of a subglacial lake under Mars Glacier using remote sensing and aerogeophysics. Results suggest drainage of the subglacial lake occurred prior to 2011, resulting in the collapse of the overlying ice into the newly formed subglacial cavity. The cavity has been refilling since this time, with peak rates of infilling associated with seasonal surface meltwater activity. We review evidence for similar features elsewhere in the Antarctic Peninsula and discuss whether their appearance marks a threshold shift in glacier thermal regimes and the activation or enhancement of their subglacial hydrological networks by surface meltwater. Collectively, these features show coupling of climate processes and the bed of the region's glaciers highlighting their ongoing vulnerability to climate change.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hodgson DA, Jordan TA, Ross N, Riley TR, Fretwell PT

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: The Cryosphere

Year: 2022

Volume: 16

Pages: 4797-4809

Print publication date: 30/11/2022

Online publication date: 30/11/2022

Acceptance date: 07/11/2022

Date deposited: 30/11/2022

ISSN (print): 1994-0416

ISSN (electronic): 1994-0424

Publisher: Copernicus Gmbh


DOI: 10.5194/tc-16-4797-2022


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