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Grounding line migration from 1992 to 2011 on Petermann Glacier, North-West Greenland


We use satellite radar interferometry to investigate changes in the location of the Petermann Glacier grounding line between 1992 and 2011. The grounding line location was identified in 17 quadruple-difference interferograms produced from European Remote Sensing (ERS)-1/2 data – the most extensive time series assembled at any ice stream to date. There is close agreement (20.6 cm) between vertical displacement of the floating ice shelf and relative tide amplitudes simulated by the Arctic Ocean Dynamics-based Tide Model 5 (AODTM-5) Arctic tide model. Over the 19 a period, the groundling line position varied by 470 m, on average, with a maximum range of 7.0 km observed on the north-east margin of the ice stream. Although the mean range (2.8 km) and variability (320 m) of the grounding line position is considerably lower if the unusually variable north-east sector is not considered, our observations demonstrate that large, isolated movements cannot be precluded, thus sparse temporal records should be analysed with care. The grounding line migration observed on Petermann Glacier is not significantly correlated with time (R 2 = 0.22) despite reported ice shelf thinning and episodes of large iceberg calving, which suggests that unlike other ice streams, on the south-west margin of the Greenland ice sheet, Petermann Glacier is dynamically stable.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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Correspondence: Anna E. Hogg <>
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Journal of Glaciology
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