Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
×
Home

Threefold increase in marine-terminating outlet glacier retreat rates across the Atlantic Arctic: 1992–2010

  • J. Rachel Carr (a1), Chris. R. Stokes (a2) and Andreas Vieli (a3)
Abstract

Accelerated discharge through marine-terminating outlet glaciers has been a key component of the rapid mass loss from Arctic glaciers since the 1990s. However, glacier retreat and its climatic controls have not been assessed at the pan-Arctic scale. Consequently, the spatial and temporal variability in the magnitude of retreat, and the possible drivers are uncertain. Here we use remotely sensed data acquired over 273 outlet glaciers, located across the entire Atlantic Arctic (i.e. areas potentially influenced by North Atlantic climate and/or ocean conditions, specifically: Greenland, Novaya Zemlya, Franz Josef Land and Svalbard), to demonstrate high-magnitude, accelerating and near-ubiquitous retreat between 1992 and 2010. Overall, mean retreat rates increased by a factor of 3.5 between 1992 and 2000 (−30.5 m a−1) and 2000–10 (−105.8 m a−1), with 97% of the study glaciers retreating during the latter period. The Retreat was greatest in northern, western and south-eastern Greenland and also increased substantially on the Barents Sea coast of Novaya Zemlya. Glacier retreat showed no significant or consistent relationship with summer air temperatures at decadal timescales. The rate of frontal position change showed a significant, but weak, correlation with changes in sea-ice concentrations. We highlight large variations in retreat rates within regions and suggest that fjord topography plays an important role. We conclude that marine-terminating Arctic outlet glaciers show a common response of rapid and accelerating retreat at decadal timescales.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Threefold increase in marine-terminating outlet glacier retreat rates across the Atlantic Arctic: 1992–2010
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Threefold increase in marine-terminating outlet glacier retreat rates across the Atlantic Arctic: 1992–2010
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Threefold increase in marine-terminating outlet glacier retreat rates across the Atlantic Arctic: 1992–2010
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
Hide All
Amundson, JM and 5 others (2010) Ice mélange dynamics and implications for terminus stability, Jakobshavn Isbræ, Greenland. J. Geophys. Res., 115, F01005
Andersen, ML and 9 others (2015) Basin-scale partitioning of Greenland ice sheet mass balance components (2007–2011). Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 409, 8995
Bartholomaus, TC and 10 others (2016) Contrasts in the response of adjacent fjords and glaciers to ice-sheet surface melt in west Greenland. Ann. Glaciol., 57(73) 114
Benn, DI, Warren, CR and Mottram, RH (2007) Calving processes and the dynamics of calving glaciers. Earth Sci. Rev., 82, 143179
Beszczynska-Möller, A, Fahrbach, E, Schauer, U and Hansen, E (2012) Variability in Atlantic water temperature and transport at the entrance to the Arctic Ocean, 1997–2010. ICES J. Mar. Sci. 69(5), 852863
Blaszczyk, M, Jania, JA and Hagen, JM (2009) Tidewater glaciers of Svalbard: recent changes and estimates of calving fluxes. Pol. Polar Res., 30(2), 85142
Box, JE, Yang, L, Bromwich, DH and Bai, LS (2009) Greenland ice sheet surface Air temperature variability: 1840–2007. J. Clim., 22, 40294049
Cappelen, J (2011) Technical report 11–05: dMI monthly climate data collection 1768–2010. The Faroe Islands and Greenland Danish Meteorological Institute, Denmark
Carr, JR, Stokes, CR and Vieli, A (2013a) Recent progress in understanding marine-terminating Arctic outlet glacier response to climatic and oceanic forcing: twenty years of rapid change. Prog. Phys. Geograph., 37(4), 435466
Carr, JR, Vieli, A and Stokes, CR (2013b) Climatic, oceanic and topographic controls on marine-terminating outlet glacier behavior in north-west Greenland at seasonal to interannual timescales. J. Geophys. Res., 118(3), 12101226
Carr, JR, Stokes, C and Vieli, A (2014) Recent retreat of major outlet glaciers on Novaya Zemlya, Russian Arctic, influenced by fjord geometry and sea-ice conditions. J. Glaciol., 60, 155170
Carr, JR and 9 others (2015) Basal topographic controls on rapid retreat of humboldt glacier, northern Greenland. J. Glaciol., 61(225), 137150
Carroll, D and 5 others (2017) Subglacial discharge-driven renewal of tidewater glacier fjords. J. Geophys. Res.: Oceans, 122(8), 66116629
Cassotto, R, Fahnestock, M, Amundson, JM, Truffer, M and Joughin, I (2015) Seasonal and interannual variations in ice melange and its impact on terminus stability, Jakobshavn Isbræ, Greenland. J. Glaciol., 61(225), 7688
Christoffersen, P and 7 others (2011) Warming of waters in an East Greenland fjord prior to glacier retreat: mechanisms and connection to large-scale atmospheric conditions. Cryosphere, 5, 701714
Cowton, T and 5 others (2016) Controls on the transport of oceanic heat to Kangerdlugssuaq glacier, East Greenland. J. Glaciol, 62(236), 11671180
Enderlin, EM, Howat, IM and Vieli, A (2013) High sensitivity of tidewater outlet glacier dynamics to shape. Cryosphere, 7(3), 10071015
Enderlin, EM and 5 others (2014) An improved mass budget for the Greenland ice sheet. Geophys. Res. Lett., 41(3), 2013GL059010
Fürst, JJ, Goelzer, H and Huybrechts, P (2015) Ice-dynamic projections of the Greenland ice sheet in response to atmospheric and oceanic warming. Cryosphere, 9(3), 10391062
Gardner, A and 15 others (2013) A reconciled estimate of glacier contributions to Sea level rise: 2003 to 2009. Science, 340(6134), 852857
Grant, KL, Stokes, CR and Evans, IS (2009) Identification and characteristics of surge-type glaciers on Novaya Zemlya, Russian Arctic. J. Glaciol., 55(194), 960972
Hanna, E, Mernild, SH, Cappelen, J and Steffen, K (2012) Recent warming in Greenland in a long-term instrumental (1881–2012) climatic context: I. Evaluation of surface air temperature records. Environ. Res. Lett., 7(4), 045404
Hanna, E and 6 others (2013) The influence of North Atlantic atmospheric and oceanic forcing effects on 1900–2010 Greenland summer climate and ice melt/runoff. Int. J. Climatol., 33(4), 862880
Higgins, AK (1990) North Greenland glacier velocities and calf ice production. Polarforschung, 60(1), 123
Holland, DM, RHDY Thomas, B, Ribergaard, MH and Lyberth, B (2008) Acceleration of Jakobshavn Isbræ triggered by warm subsurface ocean waters. Nat. Geosci., 1, 16
Holliday, NP and 10 others (2008) Reversal of the 1960s to 1990s freshening trend in the northeast North Atlantic and Nordic seas. Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L03614
Howat, IM and Eddy, A (2011) Multi-decadal retreat of Greenland's marine-terminating glaciers. J. Glaciol., 57(203), 389396
Howat, IM, Joughin, I, Fahnestock, M, Smith, BE and Scambos, T (2008) Synchronous retreat and acceleration of southeast Greenland outlet glaciers 2000–2006; Ice dynamics and coupling to climate. J. Glaciol., 54(187), 114
IPCC (2013) Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the IPCC 5th Assessment Report. Online unedited version
Jamieson, SSR and 6 others (2012) Ice stream stability on a reverse bed slope. Nat. Geosci., 5, 799802
Jenkins, A (2011) Convection-Driven melting near the grounding lines of Ice shelves and tidewater glaciers. J. Phys. Oceanogr., 41, 22792294
Jensen, TS, Box, JE and Hvidberg, CS (2016) A sensitivity study of annual area change for Greenland ice sheet marine terminating outlet glaciers: 1999–2013. J. Glaciol., 62(231), 7281
Jiskoot, H, Murray, T and Luckman, A (2003) Surge potential and drainage-basin characteristics in east Greenland. Ann. Glaciol., 36, 142148
Johnson, HL, Münchow, A, Falkner, KK and Melling, H (2011) Ocean circulation and properties in petermann fjord, Greenland. J. Geophys. Res., 116, C01003
Joughin, I and 8 others (2008a) Ice-front variation and tidewater behaviour on Helheim and Kangerdlugssuaq glaciers, Greenland. J. Geophys. Res., 113, F01004
Joughin, I and 7 others (2008b) Continued evolution of Jakobshavn Isbrae following its rapid speedup. J. Geophys. Res., 113, F04006
Joughin, I, Smith, B, Howat, IM, Scambos, T and Moon, T (2010) Greenland flow variability from ice-sheet-wide velocity mapping. J. Glaciol., 56(197), 415430
Khan, SA, Wahr, J, Bevis, M, Velicogna, I and Kendrick, E (2010) Spread of ice mass loss into northwest Greenland observed by GRACE and GPS. Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L06501
Khan, SA and 9 others (2014) Sustained mass loss of the northeast Greenland ice sheet triggered by regional warming. Nat. Clim. Change, 4(4), 292299
Luckman, A and 5 others (2015) Calving rates at tidewater glaciers vary strongly with ocean temperature. Nat. Commun., 6, 8566
McFadden, EM, Howat, IM, Joughin, I, Smith, B and Ahn, Y (2011) Changes in the dynamics of marine terminating outlet glaciers in west Greenland (2000–2009). J. Geophys. Res., 116, F02022
Melkonian, AK, Willis, MJ, Pritchard, ME and Stewart, AJ (2016) Recent changes in glacier velocities and thinning at Novaya Zemlya. Remote Sens. Environ., 174, 244257
Miles, BW, Stokes, CR and Jamieson, SS (2017) Simultaneous disintegration of outlet glaciers in porpoise Bay (wilkes land), East Antarctica, driven by sea ice break-up. Cryosphere, 11(1), 427442
Miles, BWJ, Stokes, CR, Vieli, A and Cox, NJ (2013) Rapid, climate-driven changes in outlet glaciers on the pacific coast of East Antarctica. Nature, 500(7464), 563566
Moholdt, G, Nuth, C, Hagen, JO and Kohler, J (2010) Recent elevation changes of Svalbard glaciers derived from ICESat laser altimetry. Remote Sens. Environ., 114, 27562767
Moholdt, G, Wouters, B and Gardner, AS (2012) Recent mass changes of glaciers in the Russian high Arctic. Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, L10502
Moon, T and Joughin, I (2008) Changes in ice-front position on Greenland's outlet glaciers from 1992 to 2007. J. Geophys. Res., 113, F02022
Moon, T, Joughin, I, Smith, BE and Howat, IM (2012) 21st-Century evolution of Greenland outlet glacier velocities. Science, 336(6081), 576578
Moon, T, Joughin, I and Smith, BE (2015) Seasonal to multiyear variability of glacier surface velocity, terminus position, and sea ice/ice mélange in northwest Greenland. J. Geophys. Res.: Earth Surf., 120(5), 818833
Motyka, RJ and 5 others (2011) Submarine melting of the 1985 Jakobshavn Isbræ floating tongue and the triggering of the current retreat. J. Geophys. Res., 166, F01007
Murray, T (2015) Extensive retreat of Greenland tidewater glaciers, 2000–2010. Arct., Antarct., Alpine Res., 47(3), 427447
Murray, T and 10 others (2010) Ocean regulation hypothesis for glacier dynamics in southeast Greenland and implications for ice sheet mass changes. J. Geophys. Res., 115, F03026
Myers, PG, Kulan, N and Ribergaard, MH (2007) Irminger water variability in the west Greenland current. Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L17601
Nick, FM and 7 others (2012) The response of petermann glacier, Greenland, to large calving events, and its future stability in the context of atmospheric and oceanic warming. J. Glaciol., 58(208), 229239
Nick, FM and 7 others (2013) Future sea-level rise from Greenland's main outlet glaciers in a warming climate. Nat., 497(7448), 235238
Nuth, C, Kohler, J, Aas, HF, Brandt, O and Hagen, JO (2007) Glacier geometry and elevation changes on Svalbard (1936–90): a baseline dataset. Ann. Glaciol., 46(1), 106116
Nuth, C, Moholdt, G, Kohler, J, Hagen, JO and Kääb, A (2010) Svalbard glacier elevation changes and contribution to sea level rise. J. Geophys. Res., 115, F01008
O'Neel, S, Pfeffer, WT, Krimmel, R and Meier, M (2005) Evolving force balance at Columbia glacier, Alaska, during its rapid retreat. J. Geophys. Res., 110, F03012
Politova, NV, Shevchenko, VP and Zernova, VV (2012) Distribution, composition, and vertical fluxes of particulate matter in bays of Novaya Zemlya archipelago, Vaigach Island at the End of summer. Adv. Meteorol., 2012, 15
Porter, DF and 6 others (2014) Bathymetric control of tidewater glacier mass loss in northwest Greenland. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 401, 4046
Pritchard, HD, Arthern, RJ, Vaughan, DG and Edwards, LA (2009) Extensive dynamic thinning on the margins of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Nature, 461, 971975
Raymond, C (1996) Shear margins in glaciers and ice sheets. J. Glaciol., 42(140), 90102
Reeh, N, Mayer, C, Miller, H, Thomsen, HH and Weidick, A (1999) Present and past climate control on fjord glaciations in Greenland: implications for IRD-deposition in the sea. Geophys. Res. Lett., 26(8), 10391042
Reeh, N, Thomsen, HH, Higgins, AK and Weidick, A (2001) Sea ice and the stability of north and northeast Greenland floating glaciers. Ann. Glaciol., 33, 474480
Ribergaard, MH and Buch, E (2008) Oceanographic Investigations off West Greenland 2007. NAFO Science Council Document: 7(003) (www.ocean.dmi.dk/staff/mhri/Docs/scr09-003.pdf).
Rignot, E and Kanagaratnam, P (2006) Changes in the velocity structure of the Greenland Ice sheet. Science, 311(5763), 986990
Rignot, E and Steffen, K (2008) Channelized bottom melting and stability of floating ice shelves. Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L02503
Rignot, E, Koppes, M and Velicogna, I (2010) Rapid submarine melting of the calving faces of West Greenland glaciers. Nat. Geosci., 3, 187191
Schild, KM and Hamilton, GS (2013) Seasonal variations of outlet glacier terminus position in Greenland. J. Glaciol., 59(216), 759770
Seale, A, Christoffersen, P, Mugford, R and O'Leary, M (2011) Ocean forcing of the Greenland ice sheet: calving fronts and patterns of retreat identified by automatic satellite monitoring of eastern outlet glaciers. J. Geophys. Res., 116(F3), F03013
Shepherd, A and 46 others (2012) A reconciled estimate of ice-sheet mass balance. Science, 338(6111), 11831189
Sohn, HG, Jezek, KC and van der Veen, CJ (1998) Jakobshavn glacier, West Greenland: 30 years of spacebourne observations. Geophys. Res. Lett., 25(14), 26992702
Stein, M (2005) North Atlantic subpolar gyre warming-impacts on Greenland offshore waters. J. Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Sci., 36, 4354
Straneo, F and 7 others (2010) Rapid circulation of warm subtropical waters in a major glacial fjord in East Greenland. Nat. Geosci., 3, 182186
Straneo, F and 6 others (2011) Impact of fjord dynamics and glacial runoff on the circulation near helheim glacier. Nat. Geosci., 4, 322327
Straneo, F and 8 others (2012) Characteristics of ocean waters reaching Greenland's glaciers. Ann. Glaciol., 53(60), 202210
Straneo, F and 15 others (2013) Challenges to understanding the dynamic response of Greenland's marine terminating glaciers to oceanic and atmospheric forcing. Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc., 94(8), 11311144
Sund, M, Eiken, T, Hagen, JO and Kääb, A (2009) Svalbard surge dynamics derived from geometric changes. Ann. Glaciol., 50, 5060
Sutherland, DA and 5 others (2013) Atlantic water variability on the SE Greenland shelf and its relationship to SST and bathymetry. J. Geophysi. Res.-Oceans, 118(2), 847855
Thomas, RH and 8 others (2011) Accelerating ice loss from the fastest Greenland and Antarctic glaciers. Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L10502
Todd, J and Christoffersen, P (2014) Are seasonal calving dynamics forced by buttressing from ice mélange or undercutting by melting? Outcomes from full-stokes simulations of store glacier, West Greenland. Cryosphere, 8(6), 23532365
van den Broeke, M and 8 others (2009) Partitioning recent Greenland mass loss. Science, 326, 984986
van den Broeke, MR and 7 others (2016) On the recent contribution of the Greenland ice sheet to sea level change. Cryosphere, 10(5), 19331946
Vieli, A and Nick, FM (2011) Understanding and modelling rapid dynamic changes of tidewater outlet glaciers: issues and implications. Surv. Geophys., 32, 437485
Warren, CR and Glasser, NF (1992) Contrasting response of south Greenland glaciers to recent climatic change. Arct. Alp. Res., 24(2), 124132
Yashayaev, I (2007) Hydrographic changes in the labrador Sea, 1960– 2005. Prog. Phys. Oceanogr., 73, 242276
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Annals of Glaciology
  • ISSN: 0260-3055
  • EISSN: 1727-5644
  • URL: /core/journals/annals-of-glaciology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary materials

Carr et al. supplementary material
Table S1 and Figures S1-S6

 PDF (1.0 MB)
1.0 MB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed