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Ice-dammed lakes - Evaluation of monitoring methods


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Ice-dammed lakes are common along the margin of the Greenland Ice Sheet. They form at terrain depressions along the glacier margin, where meltwater creates a lake with no natural river outlet. As melt water continuous to enter the depression, the water level increases until a critical level is reached. At that point, the lake empties quickly through channels under the glacier as a Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF).

When large amounts of melt water is suddenly released during a GLOF it affects the possibility to travel and stay in the area and damage to people or infrastructure is a worst-case scenario. Furthermore, a GLOF can change the downstream landscape and influence the downstream ecosystems.

Monitoring of the water level of ice-dammed lakes is therefore relevant to achieve more knowledge about these dynamic systems in a changing climate, and to be able to evaluate the risk and warn of future GLOF events.

The large variations in water level, the destructive forces from ice and during the GLOF and the often remote location make it challenging to monitor ice-dammed lakes. In this project, we analyse and compare existing in-situ and remote sensing data from the ice-dammed lake Hullet in South-west Greenland. We will evaluate the precision and assess pros and cons for four methods to monitor the water level in an ice-dammed lake.