Moulins are gigantic, nearly-vertical shafts that carry meltwater from the surface of a glacier to the base of the glacier, where the water can affect ice flow. To date, it is possible to observe the openings of moulins from space (Figure 1), and — in some exceptional instances — to send bold and highly skilled human explorers into moulins (Figure 2), where they can map the top few tens to hundreds of meters of the moulin. But Greenland moulins can be 500 – 1000 meters deep, and what lies beneath the near surface is not known. Thus, we quantified the most important processes that change the size and shape of a moulin over time and combined them into a model.
The Moulin Shape (MouSh) model was jointly developed by myself, Celia Trunz (UB-GML alum), and Lauren Andrews (NASA-GSFC researcher). It is fully described in a paper in review at The Cryosphere.
How important are moulins to the journey of meltwater to the ocean?