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Greenland marine-terminating glacier area changes: 2000–2010

  • Jason E. Box (a1) (a2) and David T. Decker (a2)


Area changes at 39 of the widest Greenland marine-terminating glacier outlets are measured in consecutive annual end-of-melt-season Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) scenes spanning ten annual intervals (2000–10). The rates of cumulative area change for glaciers and ice shelves are well represented by linear least-squares fits, R = –0.99 and R = –0.94, with average rates of –70 and –65km2 a–1, respectively. Collectively, during this decade, the 39 glaciers lost a cumulative area of 1368 km2. More than three-quarters of the total area change occurred north of 72˚N. The largest 11-year area change for a single glacier during the survey period is the 311km2 loss at Humboldt Glacier. The largest annual change for a single glacier was extreme compared with the others, where Petermann glacier retreated 17km between 3 and 5 August 2010. For the 10 year sample, on average, the count of glaciers retreating is twice that advancing. A larger distinction is evident considering area change, with the ratio of retreat and advance, on average, nine times the gain. For glaciers with ice shelves, we find no year with collective area gain. The area change data from this study are posted at:

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