Climate-change induced melting is leading to accelerating ice loss at tidewater glaciers worldwide. A significant component of the freshwater flux from these glaciers arises from submarine melting at the glacier-ocean interface. This melting causes a distinct acoustic signature due to the release of pressurized bubbles underwater, opening up the possibility of monitoring this phenomenon on a large scale using passive acoustic systems. To evaluate the use of sound in monitoring submarine glacier melting, we made acoustic measurements using vertical hydrophone arrays in four glacial bays in Svalbard in 2019. As the recording array was moved away from the glacier, the variation in the recorded acoustic level due to melting ice did not follow a uniformly decreasing trend as one might expect. Moreover, the acoustic intensities at different glaciers were clustered at different levels. These observations indicate that the geometry of the glacier-ocean interface, thermohaline structure of the underwater channel and presence of floating ice in the bay played a role in determining the acoustic field. Most of this variation can be explained through propagation modeling. Moving forward, this model-based interpretation of the field will play an integral part in inverting the sound to estimate the submarine melt rate.
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Spatial variation in acoustic field due to submarine melting in glacial bays
Hari Vishnu, Grant B. Deane, Mandar Chitre, Oskar Glowacki, M. Dale Stokes, Mateusz Moskalik, Hayden A. Johnson; Spatial variation in acoustic field due to submarine melting in glacial bays. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 October 2021; 150 (4_Supplement): A327–A328. https://doi.org/10.1121/10.0008459
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