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Co-seismic eruption and intermittent turbulence of a subglacial discharge plume revealed by continuous subsurface observations in Greenland

Communications Earth & Environment , Volume 2, pp 1-16; doi:10.1038/s43247-021-00132-8

Abstract: In the Arctic, subglacial discharge plumes have been recently recognised as a key driver of fjord-scale circulation. However, owing to the danger that accompanies prolonged observations at plumes, no time-series data are available. Here, we present results showing the chaotic and irregular dynamics of a plume revealed by continuous subsurface monitoring directly on the calving front of a Greenlandic glacier. We found intense fluctuations in the current and scalars (temperature and salinity), recognised shallow and deep tidal modulation and anomalies due to co-seismic drainage of an ice-dammed lake via the plume, and observed rapid and marked changes in stratification. Our analysis uncovers energy cascade intermittency with coherent structures, corresponding to upwelling pulses of warm water. Prior to our research, in situ evidence of time-variable plume dynamics was absent and limited to snapshots, therefore, our study and approach will enable researchers to transition from an episodic view of a plume to a continuously updated image.
Keywords: seismic / Greenlandic / structures / recognised / discharge plume / subglacial discharge / plume revealed

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