Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Satellite archives reveal abrupt changes in behavior of Helheim Glacier, southeast Greenland

  • VICTORIA V. MILES (a1) (a2), MARTIN W. MILES (a2) (a3) (a4) and OLA M. JOHANNESSEN (a1) (a5)

Abstract

Rapid changes in Helheim Glacier and other Greenland outlet glaciers since 2000 are well-known, but knowledge on earlier decades is fragmentary. Here we exploit the satellite image archives to produce and analyze a monthly-to-seasonal record of Helheim Glacier front position, 1980–2011. Statistical analysis identifies decadal periods with abrupt changes in variability and mean. The record also reveals evidence of volatile advance/retreat behavior in the 1980s. In one of several cases of large-amplitude subannual changes, the glacier front ‘surged’ forward in 1984/85, advancing ~6 km within a few months – surpassing its Little Ice Age maximum position – and afterward retreated ~5 km within a few weeks. These findings challenge the prevailing view of front position stability in the decades before the multi-year retreat in the early 2000s. Cold conditions including rigid ice mélange appear to be a factor in the high-amplitude seasonal advances in the 1980s. However the magnitude and abruptness of the changes in the record cannot be explained solely as a climatic response, such that glacio-dynamics must be invoked. Further, the volatile advance/retreat behavior in the cold 1980s resulted in increased dynamic ice loss, complicating the interpretation of increased calving activity as a response to warming.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Satellite archives reveal abrupt changes in behavior of Helheim Glacier, southeast Greenland
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Satellite archives reveal abrupt changes in behavior of Helheim Glacier, southeast Greenland
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Satellite archives reveal abrupt changes in behavior of Helheim Glacier, southeast Greenland
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Correspondence: Victoria V. Miles <victoria.miles@nersc.no>

References

Hide All
Abdalati, W and 9 others (2001) Outlet glacier and margin elevation changes: near-coastal thinning of the Greenland ice sheet. J. Geophys. Res., 106, 33,72933,741 (doi: 10.1029/2001JD900192)
Andresen, CS and 6 others (2012) Rapid response of Helheim Glacier in Greenland to climate variability over the past century. Nature Geosci., 5, 3741 (doi: 10.1038/NGEO1349)
Andresen, CS and 7 others (2013) A 100-year long record of alkenone-derived SST changes by Southeast Greenland. Continental Shelf Res., 71, 4551 (doi: 10.1016/j.csr.2013.10.003)
Andresen, CS and 10 others (2014) A 100-year record of changes in water renewal rate in Sermilik fjord and its influence on calving of Helheim Glacier, southeast Greenland. Continental Shelf Res., 85, 2129 (doi: 10.1016/j.csr.2014.05.017)
Bamber, JL and 10 others (2013) A new bed elevation dataset for Greenland. Cryosphere, 7, 499510 (doi: 10.5194/tc-7-499-2013)
Bevan, SL, Luckman, AJ and Murray, T (2012) Glacier dynamics over the last quarter of a century at Helheim, Kangerdlugssuaq and 14 other major Greenland outlet glaciers. Cryosphere, 6, 923937 (doi: 10.5194/tc-6-923-2012)
Bindschadler, R and Scambos, TA (1991) Satellite-image-derived velocity field of an Antarctic ice stream. Science, 252, 242246 (doi: 10.1126/science.252.5003.242)
Bjørk, AA and 6 others (2012) An aerial view of 80 years of climate-related glacier fluctuations in southeast Greenland. Nature Geosci., 5, 427432 (doi: 10.1038/NGEO1481)
Campbell, JB (2002) Introduction to remote sensing. 3rd Edn. Taylor and Francis, New York
Chen, J and Gupta, AK (2000) Parametric statistical change point analysis. Birkhauser, Boston
Csatho, BM, Bolzan, JF, van der Veen, CJ, Schenk, AF and Lee, DC (1999) Surface velocities of a Greenland outlet glacier from high-resolution visible satellite imagery. Polar Geog., 23, 7182 (doi: 10.1080/10889379909377665)
Enderlin, EM and 5 others (2014) An improved mass budget for the Greenland Ice Sheet. Geophys. Res. Lett., 41, 866872 (doi: 10.1002/2013GL059010)
Howat, IM and Eddy, A (2011) Multi-decadal retreat of Greenland's marine-terminating glaciers. J. Glaciol., 57, 389396 (doi: 10.3189/002214311796905631)
Howat, IM, Joughin, I, Tulaczyk, S and Gogineni, S (2005) Rapid retreat and acceleration of Helheim Glacier, east Greenland. Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L22502 (doi: 10.1029/2005GL024737)
Howat, IM, Joughin, I and Scambos, TA (2007) Rapid changes in ice discharge from Greenland outlet glaciers. Science, 315, 15591561 (doi: 10.1126/science.1138478)
Howat, IM, Joughin, I, Fahnestock, M, Smith, BE and Scambos, TA (2008) Synchronous retreat and acceleration of southeast Greenland outlet glaciers 2000–06: ice dynamics and coupling to climate. J. Glaciol., 54, 646660
Jiskoot, H (2011) Glacier surging. In Singh, VP, Singh, P, Pratap, U., Haritashya, eds. Encyclopedia of snow, ice and glaciers. Springer, Dordrecht, 1253 p., ISBN 10.1007/978-90-481-2642-2_559
Jiskoot, H and Juhlin, D (2009) Surge of a small East Greenland glacier, 2001–2007, suggests Svalbard-type surge mechanism. J. Glaciol., 55, 567570 (doi: 0.3189/002214309788816605)
Johannessen, OM, Korablev, A, Miles, V, Miles, MW and Solberg, KE (2011) Interaction between the warm subsurface Atlantic water in the Sermilik Fjord and Helheim glacier in southeast Greenland. Surv. Geophys., 32, 387396 (doi: 10.1007/s10712-011-9130)
Joughin, I and 8 others (2008) Ice-front variation and tidewater behavior on Helheim and Kangerdlugssuaq Glaciers, Greenland. J. Geophys. Res., 113, F01004 (doi: 10.1029/2007JF000837)
Khan, SA and 11 others (2014) Glacier dynamics at Helheim and Kangerdlugssuaq glaciers, southeast Greenland, since the Little Ice Age. Cryosphere, 8, 14971507 (doi: 10.5194/tc-8-1497-2014)
Kjær, KH and 13 others (2012) Aerial photographs reveal late-20th-century dynamic ice loss in Northwestern Greenland. Science, 337, 569573 (doi: 10.1126/science.1220614)
Levene, H (1960) Robust tests for equality of variances. In Olkin, I and others eds. Contributions to probability and statistics. Stanford University Press, Stanford, 278292
Luckman, A, Murray, T, de Lange, R and Hanna, E (2006) Rapid and synchronous ice-dynamic changes in East Greenland. Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L03503 (doi: 10.1029/2005GL025428)
Mernild, SH, Malmros, JK, Yde, JC and Knudsen, NT (2012) Multi-decadal marine and land-terminating glacier recession. Cryosphere, 6, 625639 (doi: 10.5194/tc-6-625-2012)
Moon, T, Joughin, I and Smith, B (2015) Seasonal to multi-year variability of glacier surface velocity, terminus position, and sea ice/ice mélange in northwest Greenland. J. Geophys. Res., 120, 818833 (doi: 10.1002/2015JF003494)
Morlighem, M, Rignot, E, Mouginot, J, Seroussi, H and Larour, E (2014) Deeply incised submarine glacial valleys beneath the Greenland ice sheet. Nature Geosci., 7, 418422 (doi: 10.1038/NGEO2167)
Murray, T and 10 others (2010) Ocean regulation hypothesis for glacier dynamics in southeast Greenland and implications for ice sheet mass changes. J. Geophys. Res., 115, F03026 (doi: 10.1029/ 2009JF001522)
Nick, F, Vieli, A, Howat, IM and Joughin, I (2009) Large-scale changes in Greenland outlet glacier dynamics triggered at the terminus. Nature Geosci, 2, 110114 (doi: 10.1038/ngeo394)
Nick, F and 7 others (2013) Future sea-level rise from Greenland's main outlet glaciers in a warming climate. Nature, 497, 235238 (doi: 10.1038/nature12068)
Paterson, WSB (1994) The physics of glaciers. 3rd edn., Elsevier, Oxford
Post, A, O'Neel, S, Motyka, RJ and Streveler, G (2012) A complex relationship between calving glaciers and climate. EOS Trans. Amer. Geophys. Union, 92, 305312 (doi: 10.1029/2011EO370001)
Rignot, E and Kangnaratham, P (2006) Changes in the velocity structure of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Science, 311, 986990 (doi: 10.1126/science.1121381)
Rignot, E, Braaten, D, Gogineni, SP, Krabill, WB and McConnell, JR (2004) Rapid ice discharge from southeast Greenland glaciers. Geophys. Res. Lett., 31, L10401 (doi: 10.1029/2004GL019474)
Schild, KM and Hamilton, GS (2013) Seasonal variations of outlet glacier terminus position in Greenland. J. Glaciol., 59(216), 759770 (doi: 10.3189/2013JoG12J238)
Schjøth, F and 5 others (2012) Campaign to map the bathymetry of a major Greenland fjord. EOS Trans. Amer. Geophys. Union, 93(14), 1 (doi: 10.1029/2012EO140001)
Schmith, T and Hansen, C (2003) Fram Strait ice export during the 19th and 20th centuries: multiyear ice from southwestern Greenland. J. Clim., 16, 27822791 (doi: 10.1175/1520-0442(2003)016<2782:FSIEDT>2.0.CO;2)
Seale, A, Christoffersen, P, Mugford, RI and O'Leary, M (2011) Ocean forcing of the Greenland Ice Sheet: calving fronts and patterns of retreat identified by automatic satellite monitoring of eastern outlet glaciers. J. Geophys. Res., 116, F03013 (doi: 10.1029/2010JF001847)
Stearns, LA and Hamilton, GS (2007) Rapid volume loss from two East Greenland outlet glaciers quantified using repeat stereo satellite imagery. Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L05503 (doi: 10.1029/2006GL028982)
Straneo, F and Heimbach, P (2013) North Atlantic warming and the retreat of Greenland's outlet glaciers. Nature, 504, 3643 (doi: 10.1038/nature12854)
Straneo, F and 6 others (2010) Rapid circulation of warm subtropical waters in a major glacial fjord off East Greenland. Nature Geosci., 3, 182186 (doi: 10.1038/NGEO764)
van den Broeke, M and 8 others (2009) Partitioning recent Greenland mass loss. Science, 326, 984986 (doi: 10.1126/science.1178176)
Walsh, KM, Howat, IM, Ahn, Y and Enderlin, EM (2012) Changes in the marine-terminating glaciers of central east Greenland, 2000–2010. Cryosphere, 6, 211220 (doi: 10.5194/tc-6-211-2012)
Whillans, I and Tseng, Y (1995) Automatic tracking of crevasses on satellite images. Cold Regions Sci. Technol., 23, 201214 (doi: 10.1016/0165-232X(94)00009-M)

Keywords

Satellite archives reveal abrupt changes in behavior of Helheim Glacier, southeast Greenland

  • VICTORIA V. MILES (a1) (a2), MARTIN W. MILES (a2) (a3) (a4) and OLA M. JOHANNESSEN (a1) (a5)

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed