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Seven decades of uninterrupted advance of Good Friday Glacier, Axel Heiberg Island, Arctic Canada



Previous studies reported that Good Friday Glacier had been actively surging in the 1950–60s, 1990s and again in 2000–15. Based on observations of terminus position change from air photos and satellite imagery, we fill the gaps between previous studies and conclude that the glacier has been advancing continuously since 1959. Ice surface velocities extracted from optical and synthetic aperture radar satellite images show higher flow rates than on most other marine-terminating glaciers in the region. This behaviour contrasts with the regional trend of glacier retreat over this period. Possible explanations involve a delayed response to positive mass-balance conditions of the Little Ice Age, or a dynamic instability. There is, however, insufficient evidence to attribute this behaviour to classical glacier surging as suggested in previous studies. Based on present-day ice velocity and glacier geometry patterns in the terminus region, we reconstruct the evolution of ice motion throughout the advance, and suggest that what has previously been interpreted as a surge, may instead have been a localised response to small-scale perturbations in bedrock topography.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Correspondence: Dorota Medrzycka <>


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