Paleofluvial landscape inheritance for Jakobshavn Isbræ catchment, Greenland

Michael Cooper, Katerina Michaelides, Martin Siegert, Jonathan Bamber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
350 Downloads (Pure)


Subglacial topography exerts strong controls on glacier dynamics, influencing the orientation and velocity of ice flow, as well as modulating the distribution of basal waters and sediment. Bed geometry can also provide a long-term record of geomorphic processes, allowing insight into landscape evolution, the origin of which may predate ice sheet inception. Here we present evidence from ice-penetrating radar data for a large dendritic drainage network, radiating inland from Jakobshavn Isbræ, Greenland's largest outlet glacier. The size of the drainage basin is ∼450,000 km2 and accounts for about 20% of the total land area of Greenland. Topographic and basin morphometric analyses of an isostatically uplifted (ice-free) bedrock topography suggests that this catchment predates ice sheet initiation and has likely been instrumental in controlling the location and form of the Jakobshavn ice stream, and ice flow from the deep interior to the margin, now and over several glacial cycles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6350-6357
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number12
Early online date21 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2016


  • Greenland ice sheet
  • Geomorphology
  • Glacial erosion
  • Fluvial erosion
  • Paleofluvial origin
  • Landscape inheritance


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