Ice acceleration and rotation in the Greenland Ice Sheet interior in recent decades

Anja Løkkegaard, William Colgan, Karina Hansen, Kisser Thorsøe, Jakob Jakobsen, Shfaqat Abbas Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


In the past two decades, mass loss from the Greenland ice sheet has accelerated, partly due to the speedup of glaciers. However, uncertainty in speed derived from satellite products hampers the detection of inland changes. In-situ measurements using stake surveys or GPS have lower uncertainties. To detect inland changes, we repeated in-situ measurements of ice-sheet surface velocities at 11 historical locations first measured in 1959, located upstream of Jakobshavn Isbræ, west Greenland. Here, we show ice velocities have increased by 5–15% across all deep inland sites. Several sites show a northward deflection of 3–4.5° in their flow azimuth. The recent appearance of a network of large transverse surface crevasses, bisecting historical overland traverse routes, may indicate a fundamental shift in local ice dynamics. We suggest that creep instability—a coincident warming and softening of near-bed ice layers—may explain recent acceleration and rotation, in the absence of an appreciable change in local driving stress.

Original languageEnglish
Article number211
JournalCommunications Earth and Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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