Jakobshavn Glacier Calving Front Recession from 1850 to 2006

  • Released Friday, January 5th, 2007
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:55PM
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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. After 2004, the glacier began retreating up its two main tributaries: one to the north, and a more rapid one to the southeast.
These changes are important for many reasons. 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 image of the Jakobshavn glacier on 07/07/2001 shows the  changes in the glacier's calving front between 1851 and 2006.  Historic calving front locations, 1851 through 1964, were compiled by Anker Weidick and Ole Bennike and are shown here in gray.  Recent calving front locations, 2001 through 2006, derived from satellite imagery are show in colors.  A distance scale is provided.

This image of the Jakobshavn glacier on 07/07/2001 shows the changes in the glacier's calving front between 1851 and 2006. Historic calving front locations, 1851 through 1964, were compiled by Anker Weidick and Ole Bennike and are shown here in gray. Recent calving front locations, 2001 through 2006, derived from satellite imagery are show in colors. A distance scale is provided.

This still image shows background Landsat image from 7/7/2001 corresponding to the still image above with lines indicating the Jakobshavn calving front locations.

This still image shows background Landsat image from 7/7/2001 corresponding to the still image above with lines indicating the Jakobshavn calving front locations.

This element corresponding with the above image contains the overlay (with alpha) showing lines that indicate the glacier's calving front positions and dates.  A distance scale is also shown.

This element corresponding with the above image contains the overlay (with alpha) showing lines that indicate the glacier's calving front positions and dates. A distance scale is also shown.



Credits

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


Missions

This visualization is related to the following missions:

Papers used in this visualization

Weidick, A. and Bennike, O.: Quaternary glaciation history and glaciology of Jakobshavn Isbrae and the Disko Bugt region, West Greenland: a review.


Datasets used in this visualization

  • Landsat-7 Band Combination 3, 2, 1

    ID: 537
    Collected with ETM+ Historical calving front locations provided by A. Weidick and O. Bennike; Recent calving front locations derived from Landsat Imagery (07/07/2001, 09/03/2002, 08/23/2003, 10/03/2004) and ASTER Imagery(07/02/2005, 08/08/2006); Landsat Imagery shown (07/07/2001)

Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details, nor the data sets themselves on our site.