Supraglacial lakes on the Larsen B ice shelf, Antarctica, and at Paakitsoq, West Greenland: A comparative study

  • Banwell A
  • Caballero M
  • Arnold N
 et al. 
  • 20


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 15


    Citations of this article.


Supraglacial meltwater lakes trigger ice-shelf break-up and modulate seasonal ice-sheet flow, and are thus agents by which warming is transmitted to the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. To characterize supraglacial lake variability we perform a comparative analysis of lake geometry and depth in two distinct regions, one on the pre-collapse (2002) Larsen B ice shelf, Antarctica, and the other in the ablation zone of Paakitsoq, a land-terminating region of the Greenland ice sheet. Compared to Paakitsoq, lakes on the Larsen B ice shelf cover a greater proportion of surface area (5.3% cf. 1%), but are shallower and more uniform in area. Other aspects of lake geometry (e.g. eccentricity, degree of convexity (solidity) and orientation) are relatively similar between the two regions. We attribute the notable difference in lake density and depth between ice-shelf and grounded ice to the fact that ice shelves have flatter surfaces and less distinct drainage basins. Ice shelves also possess more stimuli to small-scale, localized surface elevation variability, due to the various structural features that yield small variations in thickness and which float at different levels by Archimedes' principle.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Antarctic glaciology
  • Arctic glaciology
  • Ice shelves
  • Ice-shelf break-up
  • Surface melt

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document

Get full text


  • Alison F. Banwell

  • Martamaria Caballero

  • Neil S. Arnold

  • Neil F. Glasser

  • L. Mac Cathles

  • Douglas R. MacAyeal

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free