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Extensive retreat of Greenland tidewater glaciers, 2000-2010

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 12:45 authored by Murray, T, Scharrer, K, Selmes, N, Booth, AD, James, TD, Bevan, SL, Bradley, J, Susan CookSusan Cook, Cordero Llana, L, Drocourt, Y, Dyke, L, Goldsack, A, Hughes, AL, Luckman, AJ, McGovern, J
Overall mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet nearly doubled during the early 2000s resulting in an increased contribution to sea-level rise, with this step-change being mainly attributed to the widespread frontal retreat and accompanying dynamic thinning of tidewater glaciers. Changes in glacier calving-front positions are easily derived from remotely sensed imagery and provide a record of dynamic change. However, ice-sheet-wide studies of calving fronts have been either spatially or temporally limited. In this study multiple calving-front positions were derived for 199 Greenland marine-terminating outlet glaciers with width greater than 1 km using Landsat imagery for the 11-year period 2000–2010 in order to identify regional seasonal and inter-annual variations. During this period, outlet glaciers were characterized by sustained and substantial retreat summing to more than 267 km, with only 11 glaciers showing overall advance. In general, the pattern of mass loss detected by GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) and other measurements is reflected in the calving record of Greenland glaciers. Our results suggest several regions in the south and east of the ice sheet likely share controls on their dynamic changes, but no simple single control is apparent.


Publication title

Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research








Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Inst Arctic Alpine Res

Place of publication

Univ Colorado, Boulder, USA, Co, 80309

Rights statement

Copyright 2015 Regents of the University of Colorado

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences

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