Earth  ID: 4528

Seasonal Speed Variation on Heimdal Glacier

The NASA/USGS Landsat 8 mission has allowed new views of the Earth’s glaciers. By tracking displacement of local surface features through the seasons on outlet glaciers from the large ice sheets, researchers from the University of Alaska, the University of Bristol, and the University of Colorado have been able to show that each glacier around Greenland has a unique pattern of flow variation through the seasons.

Seasonal variations, seen in this animation on the lower 25 kilometers of Heimdal Glacier in southeast Greenland, are caused by a combination of processes. For Heimdal, the largest forcing for flow variation is likely the input of increasing amounts of surface melt water through the Spring and Summer, but there is also an interplay between calving of ice from the end of the glacier, flow acceleration as shown in the animation, and thinning of the ice due to the extra stretching from the faster flow.

By measuring these changes in flow on seasonal timescales, scientists can develop a better understanding of what controls the flow of these glaciers where they meet the ocean. This understanding will improve our ability to anticipate flow responses of these systems in a warming climate.


Used Elsewhere In

Visualization Credits

Lead Visualizer:
Cindy Starr (GST)

Horace Mitchell (NASA/GSFC)
Greg Shirah (NASA/GSFC)

Twila Moon (University of Bristol)
Mark Fahnestock (University of Alaska)

Matthew R. Radcliff (USRA)

Technical Support:
Laurence Schuler (ADNET Systems, Inc.)
Ian Jones (ADNET Systems, Inc.)

Project Supporters:
Joycelyn Thomson Jones (NASA/GSFC)
Leann Johnson (GST)
Eric Sokolowsky (GST)

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

Additional credit goes to Canadian Space Agency, RADARSAT International Inc.

Mark Fahnstock (Univ. of Alaska), Twila Moon (Univ. of Bristol), Ted Scambos (Univ. of Colorado/NSIDC), Marin Klinger (Univ. of Colorado/NSIDC), Alex Gardner (JPL), Terry Haran (Univ. of Colorado/NSIDC)

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Data Used:
Greenland Mapping Project (GIMP) Digital Elevation Model 2003 - 2009
RADARSAT-1/SAR 2000 - 2013
Landsat-8/Global Land Ice Velocity Oct. 2013 - Oct. 2016
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.

GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Glacier Motion/Ice Sheet Motion
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Cryosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Glaciers
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Hydrosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Glacier Motion/Ice Sheet Motion
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Hydrosphere >> Glaciers/Ice Sheets >> Glaciers
GCMD >> Location >> Greenland
SVS >> Hyperwall
SVS >> Glaciers
NASA Science >> Earth
SVS >> Presentation
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Terrestrial Hydrosphere >> Glaciers/ice Sheets
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Terrestrial Hydrosphere >> Glaciers/ice Sheets >> Glacier Motion/ice Sheet Motion

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