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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-260
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2018-260
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 02 Jan 2019

Research article | 02 Jan 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Warming of SE Greenland shelf waters in 2016 primes large glacier for runaway retreat

Suzanne L. Bevan1, Adrian J. Luckman1, Douglas I. Benn2, Tom Cowton2, and Joe Todd2 Suzanne L. Bevan et al.
  • 1Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK
  • 2University of St Andrews, College Gate, St Andrews KY16 9AJ, UK

Abstract. Kangerdluqssuaq Glacier in south-east Greenland has now retreated further inland than at any time in the past 33 years and is fast approaching a region of retrograde bedslope, meaning that continued rapid retreat is likely. Here we show that the current retreat was driven by anomalously warm surface water on the continental shelf during 2016. The warm surface water likely penetrated the fjord and weakened the mixture of sea ice and icebergs known as mélange, which is normally rigid enough to inhibit calving in winter. As Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier continued to calve almost continuously throughout 2017 and 2018 it accelerated by 35 % and thinned by 35 m.

Suzanne L. Bevan et al.
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Suzanne L. Bevan et al.
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Short summary
Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier in Greenland retreated significantly in the early 2000s and typified the response of calving glaciers to climate change. Satellite images show that it has recently retreated even further. The current retreat follows the appearance of extremely warm surface waters on the continental shelf during the summer of 2016 which likely entered the fjord and caused the rigid mass of sea-ice and icebergs, that normally inhibits calving, to melt and break up.
Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier in Greenland retreated significantly in the early 2000s and typified the...
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