Byrd Glacier is one of the largest and fastest-flowing glaciers in Antarctica. Only recently did we realize that it can undergo short-lived, but significant changes in flow speed in response to the draining of two large subglacial lakes located in its catchment. The purpose of this (now expired) NSF-funded project was to understand the flow dynamics of large, fast-moving outlet glaciers that drain the East Antarctic Ice Sheet by means of an integrated field, remote sensing, and modeling study of Byrd Glacier.
Between 2010 and 2013, we deployed a dense network of GPS instruments over the two subglacial lakes, and on the grounded trunk and floating portions of the glacier. Our results show a close relationship between subglacial hydrologic pathways between the two lakes. Our modeling results show that when the two lakes drained (between December 2005 and February 2007), the partitioning of flow resistance did not change, suggesting the increase in velocity was caused by a temporary decrease in basal effective pressure.
This was an NSF-funded project, "Collaborative Research: Byrd Glacier Flow Dynamics" with: