Greenland-wide inventory of ice marginal lakes using a multi-method approach

Sci Rep. 2021 Feb 24;11(1):4481. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-83509-1.


Ice marginal lakes are a dynamic component of terrestrial meltwater storage at the margin of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Despite their significance to the sea level budget, local flood hazards and bigeochemical fluxes, there is a lack of Greenland-wide research into ice marginal lakes. Here, a detailed multi-sensor inventory of Greenland's ice marginal lakes is presented based on three well-established detection methods to form a unified remote sensing approach. The inventory consists of 3347 ([Formula: see text]%) ice marginal lakes ([Formula: see text]) detected for the year 2017. The greatest proportion of lakes lie around Greenland's ice caps and mountain glaciers, and the southwest margin of the ice sheet. Through comparison to previous studies, a [Formula: see text]% increase in lake frequency is evident over the west margin of the ice sheet since 1985. This suggests it is becoming increasingly important to include ice marginal lakes in future sea level projections, where these lakes will form a dynamic storage of meltwater that can influence outlet glacier dynamics. Comparison to existing global glacial lake inventories demonstrate that up to 56% of ice marginal lakes could be unaccounted for in global estimates of ice marginal lake change, likely due to the reliance on a single lake detection method.