Greenland ice-sheet wide glacier classification based on two distinct seasonal ice velocity behaviors

Saurabh Vijay, Michalea D. King, Ian M. Howat, Anne M. Solgaard, Shfaqat Abbas Khan, Brice Noël

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Greenland glaciers exhibit variable seasonal velocity signals that may reflect differences in subglacial hydrology. Here, we conduct a first GrIS-wide glacier classification based on seasonal velocity patterns derived from 2017 Sentinel-1 radar data. Our classification focuses on two distinct seasonal ice velocity patterns, with the first (type-2 from Moon and others, 2014) showing periods of both speedup and slowdown during the melt season, and the second (type-3) instead showing a longer period of slowdown from elevated velocities in the winter and spring. We analyze 221 glaciers in 2017 and show that 48 exhibit type-2 behavior, and 72 exhibit type-3 behavior. We extend the classification to 2018 and 2019 and find that while the glaciers meeting each criterion vary year to year, type-2 is consistently more common in the northern regions and type-3 is more common in the south. Our results highlight the varied impact of meltwater on subglacial drainage systems and glacier flow in Greenland.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1241-1248
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Glaciology
Issue number266
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2021


  • Glacier fluctuations
  • ice dynamics
  • ice velocity
  • ice/atmosphere interactions
  • remote sensing

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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