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Automated detection and analysis of surface calving waves with a terrestrial radar interferometer at the front of Eqip Sermia, Greenland

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Wehrlé Adrien, Lüthi Martin P., Walter Andrea, Jouvet Guillaume, Vieli Andreas,
Project Comprehensive Observations of Episodic Basal, Englacial and Lateral Influences on Ice Stream Dynamics
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal The Cryosphere
Volume (Issue) 15(12)
Page(s) 5659 - 5674
Title of proceedings The Cryosphere
DOI 10.5194/tc-15-5659-2021

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


Abstract. Glacier calving is a key dynamical process of the Greenland Ice Sheet and a major driver of its increasing mass loss. Calving waves, generated by the sudden detachment of ice from the glacier terminus, can reach tens of meters in height and provide very valuable insights into quantifying calving activity. In this study, we present a new method for the detection of source location, timing, and magnitude of calving waves using a terrestrial radar interferometer. This method was applied to 11 500 1 min interval acquisitions from Eqip Sermia, West Greenland, in July 2018. Over 7 d, more than 2000 calving waves were detected, including waves generated by submarine calving, which are difficult to observe with other methods. Quantitative assessment with a wave power index (WPI) yields a higher wave activity (+49 %) and higher temporally cumulated WPI (+34 %) in deep water than under shallow conditions. Subglacial meltwater plumes, occurring 2.3 times more often in the deep sector, increase WPI and the number of waves by a factor of 1.8 and 1.3, respectively, in the deep and shallow sector. We therefore explain the higher calving activity in the deep sector by a combination of more frequent meltwater plumes and more efficient calving enhancement linked with better connections to warm deep ocean water.