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Volume change of Jakobshavn Isbræ, West Greenland: 1985–1997–2007

  • Roman J. Motyka (a1), Mark Fahnestock (a2) and Martin Truffer (a1)

Abstract

Following three decades of relative stability, Jakobshavn Isbræ, West Greenland, underwent dramatic thinning, retreat and speed-up starting in 1998. To assess the amount of ice loss, we analyzed 1985 aerial photos and derived a 40 m grid digital elevation model (DEM). We also obtained a 2007 40 m grid SPOT DEM covering the same region. Comparison of the two DEMs over an area of ∼4000 km2 revealed a total ice loss of 160 ± 4 km3, with 107 ± 0.2 km3 in grounded regions (0.27 mm eustatic sea-level rise) and 53 ± 4 km3 from the disintegration of the floating tongue. Comparison of the DEMs with 1997 NASA Airborne Topographic Mapper data indicates that this ice loss essentially occurred after 1997, with +0.7 ± 5.6 km3 between 1985 and 1997 and −160 ± 7 km3 between 1997 and 2007. The latter is equivalent to an average specific mass balance of −3.7 ± 0.2 m a−1 over the study area. Previously reported thickening of the main glacier during the early 1990s was accompanied by similar-magnitude thinning outside the areas of fast flow, indicating that the land-based ice continued reacting to longer-term climate forcing.

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References

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