Summary & Purpose
While global glacier mass balance has decreased rapidly over the last two decades, mass loss has been greatest in regions with marine-terminating glaciers. In Greenland, peripheral glaciers and ice caps (GICs) cover only ~5% of Greenland’s area but contributed ~14-20% of the island’s ice mass loss between 2003-2008. Although Greenland GIC’s mass loss due to surface meltwater runoff have been estimated using atmospheric models, mass loss due to changes in ice discharge into surrounding ocean basins (i.e., dynamic mass loss) remains unquantified. Here, we use the flux gate method to estimate discharge from Greenland’s 585 marine-terminating peripheral glaciers and compute dynamic mass loss as the discharge anomaly relative to the 1985-1998 period. Greenland GIC discharge averages 2.5 Gt/yr from 1985-1998 and abruptly increases to an average of 5.1 Gt/yr from 1999-2018, indicating a -2.6 Gt/yr mass anomaly. This mass loss is driven by synchronous widespread acceleration around Greenland and, unlike the ice sheet, it is not primarily caused by changes in discharge from a small number of glaciers with very large discharge. These estimates indicate that although Greenland GICs are small, they are sensitive to changes in climate and should not be overlooked in future analyses of glacier dynamics and mass loss.
Date of Publication or Submission
NASA grant 80NSSC19K0976
Single Dataset or Series?
The files contain time series of estimated ice discharge and associated uncertainties for 585 glaciers spanning Greenland that are not connected to the ice sheet (i.e., peripheral glaciers and ice caps). Discharge was computed using a flux gate method without corrections for mass loss or gain between the gate and the glacier terminus. Glaciers are organized by row and the columns indicate the BoxID used for easy identification of glaciers, longitude (Greenland Polar Stereo; m), and latitude (Greenland Polar Stereo; m), followed by a column with the discharge for each year from 1985-2018. The header on the columns provides the same metadata.
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Bollen, Katherine; Enderlin, Ellyn; and Muhlheim, Rebecca, "Dataset for Dynamic Mass Loss from Greenland's Peripheral Glaciers" (2021). Geosciences Research Data. 5.