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Calving event detection by observation of seiche effects on the Greenland fjords

  • Fabian Walter (a1) (a2), Marco Olivieri (a3) and John F. Clinton (a1)


With mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet accelerating and spreading to higher latitudes, the quantification of mass discharge in the form of icebergs has recently received much scientific attention. Here we make use of very low-frequency (0.001–0.01 Hz) seismic data from three permanent broadband stations installed in the summers of 2009–10 in northwest Greenland in order to monitor local calving activity. At these frequencies, calving seismograms are dominated by a tilt signal produced by local ground flexure in response to fjord seiching generated by major iceberg calving events. A simple triggering algorithm is proposed to detect calving events from large calving fronts with potentially no user interaction. Our calving catalogue identifies spatial and temporal differences in calving activity between Jakobshavn Isbræ and glaciers in the Uummannaq district ∼200 km to the north. The Uummannaq glaciers show clear seasonal fluctuations in seiche-based calving detections as well as seiche amplitudes. In contrast, the detections at Jakobshavn Isbræ show little seasonal variation, which may be evidence for an ongoing transition to winter calving activity. The results offer further evidence that seismometers can provide efficient and inexpensive monitoring of calving fronts.

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