Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Geophysics



Major Advisor

Ellyn Enderlin, Ph.D.


H.P. Marshall, Ph.D.


T. Dylan Mikesell, Ph.D.


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 594 marine-terminating peripheral glaciers between 1985 – 2018, and compute dynamic mass loss as the discharge anomaly relative to the 1985-1998 period. Greenland GIC discharge averages 2.14 Gt/yr from 1985-1998 and abruptly increases to an average of 3.87 Gt/yr from 1999-2018, indicating a -1.72 Gt/yr mass anomaly. This mass loss is driven by synchronous widespread acceleration around Greenland and, like the ice sheet, is primarily caused by changes in discharge from a small number of glaciers with larger 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.