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The response of Petermann Glacier, Greenland, to large calving events, and its future stability in the context of atmospheric and oceanic warming

  • F.M. Nick (a1) (a2), A. Luckman (a3), A. Vieli (a4), C.J. Van Der Veen (a5), D. Van As (a6), R.S.W. Van De Wal (a1), F. Pattyn (a2), A.L. Hubbard (a7) and D. Floricioiu (a7)...


This study assesses the impact of a large 2010 calving event on the current and future stability of Petermann Glacier, Greenland, and ascertains the glacier’s interaction with different components of the climate and ocean system. We use a numerical ice-flow model that captures the major aspects of the glacier’s mass budget, the resistive forces controlling glacier flow, and includes dynamic calving. Satellite observations and model results show that the recent break-off of 25% of the floating tongue did not result in a significant glacier speed-up due to the low lateral resistance of this relatively wide and thin ice tongue. We demonstrate that seasonal speed-up at Petermann Glacier is mainly driven by meltwater lubrication rather than freeze-up conditions in the fjord. Results also show that sub-shelf ocean melt may have a profound effect on the future stability of Petermann Glacier, emphasizing the urgent need for more observations, and a better understanding of fjord temperature variability and circulation.

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