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Large interannual variability in supraglacial lakes around East Antarctica

Arthur, Jennifer F.; Stokes, Chris R.; Jamieson, Stewart S.R.; Rachel Carr, J.; Leeson, Amber A.; Verjans, Vincent

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J. Rachel Carr

Amber A. Leeson

Vincent Verjans


Antarctic supraglacial lakes (SGLs) have been linked to ice shelf collapse and the subsequent acceleration of inland ice flow, but observations of SGLs remain relatively scarce and their interannual variability is largely unknown. This makes it difficult to assess whether some ice shelves are close to thresholds of stability under climate warming. Here, we present the first observations of SGLs across the entire East Antarctic Ice Sheet over multiple melt seasons (2014–2020). Interannual variability in SGL volume is >200% on some ice shelves, but patterns are highly asynchronous. More extensive, deeper SGLs correlate with higher summer (December-January-February) air temperatures, but comparisons with modelled melt and runoff are complex. However, we find that modelled January melt and the ratio of November firn air content to summer melt are important predictors of SGL volume on some potentially vulnerable ice shelves, suggesting large increases in SGLs should be expected under future atmospheric warming.


Arthur, J. F., Stokes, C. R., Jamieson, S. S., Rachel Carr, J., Leeson, A. A., & Verjans, V. (2022). Large interannual variability in supraglacial lakes around East Antarctica. Nature Communications, 13(1),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 14, 2022
Online Publication Date Mar 31, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date May 16, 2022
Publicly Available Date May 16, 2022
Journal Nature Communications
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 13
Issue 1


Published Journal Article (9.3 Mb)

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