Estimating ice discharge at Greenland's three largest outlet glaciers using local bedrock uplift

Karina Hansen, Martin Truffer, Andy Aschwanden, Kenneth Mankoff, Michael Bevis, Angelika Humbert, Michiel R. van den Broeke, Brice Noël, Anders Bjørk, William Colgan, Kurt H. Kjær, Surendra Adhikari, Valentina Barletta, Shfaqat A. Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


We present a novel method to estimate dynamic ice loss of Greenland's three largest outlet glaciers: Jakobshavn Isbræ, Kangerlussuaq Glacier, and Helheim Glacier. We use Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) stations attached to bedrock to measure elastic displacements of the solid Earth caused by dynamic thinning near the glacier terminus. When we compare our results with discharge, we find a time lag between glacier speedup/slowdown and onset of dynamic thinning/thickening. Our results show that dynamic thinning/thickening on Jakobshavn Isbræ occurs 0.87 ± 0.07 years before speedup/slowdown. This implies that using GNSS time series we are able to predict speedup/slowdown of Jakobshavn Isbræ by up to 10.4 months. For Kangerlussuaq Glacier the lag between thinning/thickening and speedup/slowdown is 0.37 ± 0.17 years (4.4 months). Our methodology and results could be important for studies that attempt to model and understand mechanisms controlling short-term dynamic fluctuations of outlet glaciers in Greenland.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021GL094252
Number of pages10
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2021


  • glaciers
  • Greenland
  • ice discharge
  • ice loss
  • land uplift
  • surface mass balance

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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