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Sea ice and the stability of north and northeast Greenland floating glaciers

  • Niels Reeh (a1), Henrik Højmark Thomsen (a2), Anthony K. Higgins (a3) and Anker Weidick (a3)
Abstract

The interaction between sea ice and glaciers has been studied for the floating tongue of Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden glacier, northeast Greenland (79°30’N, 22° W). Information from glacial geological studies, expedition reports, aerial photographs and satellite imagery is used to document the glacier front position and fast-ice conditions on millennial to decadal time-scales. The studies indicate that the stability of the floating glacier margin is dependent on the presence of a protecting fast-ice cover in front of the glacier. In periods with a permanent fast-ice cover, no calving occurs, but after fast-ice break-up the glacier responds with a large calving activity, whereby several years of accumulated glacier-ice flux suddenly breaks away. Climate-induced changes of sea-ice conditions in the Arctic Ocean with seasonal break-up of the near-shore fast ice could lead to disintegration of the floating glaciers. The present dominant mass loss by bottom melting would then to a large extent be taken over by grounding-line calving of icebergs. The local influx of fresh water from the north Greenland glaciers to the sea would be reduced and the local iceberg production would increase.

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References
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Annals of Glaciology
  • ISSN: 0260-3055
  • EISSN: 1727-5644
  • URL: /core/journals/annals-of-glaciology
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