Observations from the Programme for Monitoring of the Greenland Ice Sheet

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Signe Bech Andersen1, Andreas P Ahlstrom1, Morten L Andersen1, Jason E Box1, Michele Citterio1, William T Colgan1, Robert S Fausto1, Dirk van As1, Rene Forsberg2, Henriette Skourup2, Louise Sandberg Sørensen2, Steen Savstrup Kristensen2, Jørgen Dall2, Anders Kusk2 and Dorthe Petersen3, (1)Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Copenhagen, Denmark, (2)DTU Space, Lyngby, Denmark, (3)ASIAQ, Nuuk, Greenland
The Programme for Monitoring of the Greenland Ice Sheet (PROMICE) is as an on-going effort initiated in 2007 to monitor changes in the mass budget of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The aim of the programme is to quantify the mass loss of the Greenland ice sheet and track changes in the extent of the glaciers, ice caps and ice sheet margin.

Specifically, PROMICE aims to estimate the mass loss derived from three fundamentally different sources:

  1. Surface melt water runoff from the ice sheet margin
  2. Iceberg production
  3. Mass loss of individual glaciers and ice caps surrounding the ice sheet

The first is observed by a network of automatic weather stations (AWS) on the ice sheet margin measuring ice ablation as well as meteorological parameters.

The second is determined by establishing a so-called ‘flux gate’ along the entire ice sheet margin and keeping track of the ice passing through this gate. The flux gate is obtained from airborne surveys of ice sheet surface elevation and thickness. The volume of the ice passing through the gate is derived from maps of the surface velocity of the ice sheet, produced from satellite radar.

The third is investigated through regular mapping of area and elevation of the approximately 20.000 individual glaciers and ice caps in Greenland. Mapping is carried out using recent satellite imagery as well as aerial ortho-photos.

Within PROMICE data sets from these activities are collected. They include observations from the network of currently about 20 AWS on the margin of the Greenland ice sheet. Airborne surveys, yielding surface elevation and ice depth along the entire margin of the Greenland ice sheet carried out in 2007 and 2011. A map of all Greenland ice masses, based on the highest detail aero-photogrammetric maps produced from mid-80’s aerial photographs.

Real-time data from the PROMICE AWS network is shown at the web site www.promice.org and the data is freely available for download. Data from the airborne surveys and mapping activities are also freely available by contacting info@promice.dk.