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Volume change of Jakobshavn Isbræ, West Greenland:: 1985–1997–2007

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Following three decades of relative stability, Jakobshavn Isbræ, West Greenland, underwent dramatic thinning, retreat and speed-up starting in 1998. To assess the amount of ice loss, we analyzed 1985 aerial photos and derived a 40 m grid digital elevation model (DEM). We also obtained a 2007 40 m grid SPOT DEM covering the same region. Comparison of the two DEMs over an area of ∼4000 km2 revealed a total ice loss of 160±4 km3, with 107±0.2 km3 in grounded regions (0.27 mm eustatic sea-level rise) and 53±4 km3 from the disintegration of the floating tongue. Comparison of the DEMs with 1997 NASA Airborne Topographic Mapper data indicates that this ice loss essentially occurred after 1997, with +0.7±5.6 km3 between 1985 and 1997 and −160±7 km3 between 1997 and 2007. The latter is equivalent to an average specific mass balance of −3.7±0.2 m a−1 over the study area. Previously reported thickening of the main glacier during the early 1990s was accompanied by similar-magnitude thinning outside the areas of fast flow, indicating that the land-based ice continued reacting to longer-term climate forcing.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2010

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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