Complex multi-decadal ice dynamical change inland of marine-terminating glaciers on the Greenland Ice Sheet

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Abstract

Greenland's future contribution to sea-level rise is strongly dependent on the extent to which dynamic perturbations, originating at the margin, can drive increased ice flow within the ice-sheet interior. However, reported observations of ice dynamical change at distances >~50 km from the margin have a very low spatial and temporal resolution. Consequently, the likely response of the ice-sheet's interior to future oceanic and atmospheric warming is poorly constrained. Through combining GPS and satellite-image-derived ice velocity measurements, we measure multi-decadal (1993–1997 to 2014–2018) velocity change at 45 inland sites, encompassing all regions of the ice sheet. We observe an almost ubiquitous acceleration inland of tidewater glaciers in west Greenland, consistent with acceleration and retreat at glacier termini, suggesting that terminus perturbations have propagated considerable distances (>100 km) inland. In contrast, outside of Kangerlussuaq, we observe no acceleration inland of tidewater glaciers in east Greenland despite terminus retreat and near-terminus acceleration, and suggest propagation may be limited by the influence of basal topography and ice geometry. This pattern of inland dynamical change indicates that Greenland's future contribution to sea-level will be spatially complex and will depend on the capacity for dynamic changes at individual outlet glacier termini to propagate inland.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalJournal of Glaciology
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2021

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