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

  • Released Thursday, December 17, 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.


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.

Release date

This page was originally published on Thursday, December 17, 2009.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 at 1:54 PM EDT.


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