Video of the Week: Glacial Thinning in Greenland

Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier is one of Greenland’s largest tidewater outlet glaciers. This type of glacier terminates in the sea, leading to frequent calving and releases of ice. Kangerdlugssuaq, which translates to “large fjord” in Greenlandic, is located on the southeastern coast of Greenland.

Ph.D. candidate Michalea King, who studies Greenland outlet glaciers at Ohio State University, created this week’s video of the week. The GIF documents glacial thinning in the 21st century on Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier.

The GIF’s x-axis shows the glacier’s change in elevation, which is measured in meters. The y-axis displays the glacier’s upstream distance, which is measured in kilometers. The upstream distance measures the distance of the glacier’s stream channel from the sea to the inner glacier. An upstream distance of 0 kilometers is located at the termination of the glacier, near the sea. And an upstream distance of 35 kilometers is located further inland, towards the inner part of the glacier.

The short video shows a decrease in glacial elevation over time. Years 2000 to 2005 are colored in blue, 2006 to 2010 are colored in green, and 2011 to 2016 are colored in yellow. The most recent recording, from 2017, is colored in orange.

Yellow and orange years reveal noticeable decreases in glacial elevation, meaning that the Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier is losing ice mass. The upstream distance, specifically from 5 to 15 kilometers, shows a greater loss of elevation than other upstream distances. This means that regions near the glacier’s termination, by the sea, are particularly vulnerable to ice mass loss. Decreasing ice mass over time is likely due to increased ice calving events.

Read More on GlacierHub:

Epidemics and Population Decline in Greenland’s Inuit Community

Massive Impact Crater Discovered Beneath Greenland Glacier

Roundup: Catastrophe on Mt. Ararat, Albedo Effect in the Alps, and Meltwater in Greenland

Supraglacial Lakes Are Not Destabilizing Greenland’s Ice Sheet, Yet