Topology and spatial-pressure-distribution reconstruction of an englacial channel
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionThe Cryosphere. 2022, 16 (9), 3669-3683. 10.5194/tc-16-3669-2022
Information about glacier hydrology is important for understanding glacier and ice sheet dynamics. However, our knowledge about water pathways and pressure remains limited, as in situ observations are sparse and methods for direct area-wide observations are limited due to the extreme and hard-to-access nature of the environment. In this paper, we present a method that allows for in situ data collection in englacial channels using sensing drifters. Furthermore, we demonstrate a model that takes the collected data and reconstructs the planar subsurface water flow paths providing spatial reference to the continuous water pressure measurements. We showcase this method by reconstructing the 2D topology and the water pressure distribution of a free-flowing englacial channel in Austre Brøggerbreen (Svalbard). The approach uses inertial measurements from submersible sensing drifters and reconstructs the water flow path between given start and end coordinates. Validation of the method was done on a separate supraglacial channel, showing an average error of 3.9 m and the total channel length error of 29 m (6.5 %). At the englacial channel, the average error is 12.1 m; the length error is 107 m (11.6 %); and the water pressure standard deviation is 3.4 hPa (0.3 %). Our method allows for mapping of subsurface water flow paths and spatially referencing the pressure distribution within. Further, our method would be extendable to the reconstruction of other, previously underexplored subsurface fluid flow paths such as pipelines or karst caves.