Helheim Glacier poised for dramatic retreat

Joshua Williams*, Noel Gourmelen, Peter Nienow, Charlie Bunce, Donald Slater

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Helheim Glacier, one of the largest marine-terminating outlet glaciers draining the Greenland Ice Sheet, underwent significant retreat and acceleration in the early 2000s, accounting for an appreciable proportion of the ice sheet's mass loss during that period. Using a range of remotely sensed datasets, we show that despite a subsequent readvance, the glacier has continued to lose mass and thin, and has retreated inland of the retracted position occupied in 2005. Critically, the near-terminus is up to 100 m thinner than during 2005, and the front 5 km is within 25–50 m of flotation, with retrograde bed slopes extending several kilometers inland of the terminus. The neighboring Fenris and Midgard Glaciers have both undergone recent large-scale and rapid retreat once their near-terminus regions began to float, suggesting that under projected climate warming and associated glacier thinning, Helheim Glacier is poised to pass a threshold whereby the near-terminus region will retreat rapidly.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021GL094546
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume48
Issue number23
Early online date24 Nov 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2021

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