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Evolution of Northwest Greenland Glaciers


Wood, Michael (2018), Evolution of Northwest Greenland Glaciers, Dryad, Dataset,


In recent decades, tidewater glaciers in Northwest Greenland contributed significantly to sea level rise but exhibited a complex spatial pattern of retreat. Here, we use novel observations of bathymetry and water temperature from NASA's Ocean Melting Greenland mission to quantify the role of warm, salty Atlantic Water in controlling the evolution of 37 glaciers. Modeled ocean-induced undercutting of calving margins compared with ice advection and ice-front retreat observed by satellites from 1985 to 2015 indicate that 35 glaciers retreated when cumulative anomalies in ocean-induced undercutting rose above the range of seasonal variability of calving-front positions, while 2 glaciers standing on shallow sills and colder water did not retreat. Deviations in the observed timing of retreat are explained by residual uncertainties in bathymetry, inefficient mixing of waters in shallow fjords, and the presence of small floating sections. Overall, warmer ocean temperature triggered the retreat, but calving processes dominate ablation (71%).

Wood et al 2018, under review in Geophysical Research Letters


Data elements:

1. Ice fronts positions for 37 Northwest Greenland glaciers 1985-2017

2. Drainage basins for 37 Northwest Greenland glaciers