Recent thinning of Bowdoin Glacier, a marine terminating outlet glacier in northwestern Greenland
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Ice discharge from calving glaciers has increased in the Greenland ice sheet (GrIS), and this increase plays important roles in the volume change of GrIS and its contribution to sea level rise. Thinning of GrIS calving glaciers has been studied by the differentiation of digital elevation models (DEMs) derived by satellite remote-sensing (RS). Such studies rely on the accuracy of DEMs, but calibration of RS data with ground based data is difficult. This is because field data on GrIS calving glaciers are few. In this study, we combined field and RS data to measure surface elevation change of Bowdoin Glacier, a marine terminating outlet glacier in northwestern Greenland (77°41′18″N, 68°29′47″W). The fast flowing part of the glacier is approximately 3 km wide and 10 km long. Ice surface elevation within 6 km from the glacier terminus was surveyed in the field in July 2013 and 2014, by using the global positioning system. We also measured the surface elevation over the glacier on August 20, 2007 and September 4, 2010, by analyzing Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS), Panchromatic remote-sensing Instrument for Stereo Mapping (PRISM) images. We calibrated the satellite derived elevation data with our field measurements, and generated DEM for each year with a 25 m grid mesh. The field data and DEMs were compared to calculate recent glacier elevation change. Mean surface elevation change along the field survey profiles were −16.3±0.2 m (−5.3±0.1 m yr−1) in 2007–2010 and −10.8±0.2 m (−3.8±0.1 m yr−1) in 2010–2013. These rates are much greater than those observed on non-calving ice caps in the region, and similar to those reported for other calving glaciers in northwestern Greenland. Loss of ice was greater near the glacier terminus, suggesting the importance of ice dynamics and/or interaction with the ocean.