Poster of the Jakobshavn Glacier Calving Front Recession from 1851 to 2009

Jakobshavn Isbrae is located on the west coast of Greenland at Latitude 69 N. The ice front, where the glacier calves into the sea, receded more than 40 km between 1850 and 2006. Between 1850 and 1964 the ice front retreated at a steady rate of about 0.3 km/yr, after which it occupied approximately the same location until 2001, when the ice front began to recede again, but far more rapidly at about 3 km/yr. As more ice moves from glaciers on land into the ocean, it causes a rise in sea level. Jakobshavn Isbrae is Greenland's largest outlet glacier, draining 6.5 percent of Greenland's ice sheet area. The ice stream's speed-up and near-doubling of the ice flow from land into the ocean has increased the rate of sea level rise by about .06 millimeters (about .002 inches) per year, or roughly 4 percent of the 20th century rate of sea level increase. This may be due in part to the numerous melt lakes visible here near the top of the image. These are believed to lubricate the layer between the ice sheet and bedrock, causing the ice to flow faster toward the sea. See an animation illustrating this acceleration in item #10153.

Visualization Credits

Cindy Starr (GST): Lead Animator
Horace Mitchell (NASA/GSFC): Animator
Bob Bindschadler (NASA/GSFC): Scientist
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio Historic calving front locations courtesy of Anker Weidick and Ole Bennike, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. ASTER GDEM is a product of METI and NASA.

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Data Used:
Terra/ASTER/Global Digital Elevation Model 1999-12 to 2008-08
Landsat/TM/Calving Front Line 2009-07-29, 2006-08-06, 2004-10-03, 2003-08-23, 2002-09-03, 2001-07-07
Terra/ASTER/Calving Front Lines 2005-07-02
Landsat-7/ETM+/Band Combination 7, 4, 2 2009-07-29
Landsat-7/ETM+/Band Combination 3, 2, 1 2009-07-29

DLESE >> Cryology
SVS >> Global Warming
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Hydrosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Hydrosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Glacier Motion/Ice Sheet Motion
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Hydrosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Glaciers
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Hydrosphere >> Snow/Ice >> Ice Growth/Melt
SVS >> Copenhagen
SVS >> For Educators
SVS >> Glacial Processes
SVS >> Glaciers
NASA Science >> Earth

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version