Jakobshavn Isbræ (Jakobshavn Glacier) is moving ice from the Greenland ice sheet into the ocean at a speed that appears to be the fastest ever recorded. That’s something we often hear about our shifting climate and the ice that, in a sense, holds it together. The scientists were so shocked to find the change, Khazendar said: "At first we didn't believe it. Researchers will design a mission to learn about underground aquifers in areas such as the Sahara and how climate change will affect them in the future. 11 Reviews 0 Q&A. Randal Jackson “I think the question is why does the glacier do what it does and I’m of the opinion that the ocean is a dominant player controlling it.”. Knut Christianson, a glaciologist at the University of Washington, has been there twice. Because of the glacier’s size and activity, researchers have used it to help predict world sea level rise. It’s melting and it’s not coming back. “Colder air could cause less ice loss. The Greenland glacier Jakobshavn Isbrae is massive, at around 40 miles long and more than a mile thick. Susan Callery © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- A major Greenland glacier that was one of the fastest-shrinking ice and snow masses on Earth is growing again, a NASA study has found. And that colder water has helped the glacier slow its melt and even grow slightly. Adding to the complexity, recent research has shown that from 1979 to 2012, Greenland’s rainfall increased, which triggered sudden melting events. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. Twenty billion tons of ice dump into the sea from Jakobshavn annually, more than anywhere besides Antarctica, with bergs scooped by the Labrador Current. “Oceans are doing a huge part of the work in terms of driving Greenland's ice melt.”. Managing Editor: This has been particularly marked in Disko Bay, which spills over into the Illulisat Icefjord, the glacier’s home. Greenland's Jakobshavn glacier around 2012 was retreating about 1.8 miles and thinning nearly 130 feet annually Greenland's Jakobshavn glacier around 2012 was retreating about 1.8 miles … “I think the story is basically correct,” says David Holland, a New York University professor who was not involved with the research but who has studied ice-ocean interaction at Jakobshavn for 12 years. It's famous among glaciers as the source of the iceberg that sunk the Titanic—but it's responsible for more icebergs than that. The temperature change of the current's water is part of a known climate pattern, one that is expected to flip again, and cause more of the melting and ice thinning for which Jakobshavn is known. OMG, which is also tagging narwhals to measure ocean depth and temperature, studies the water and the glaciers themselves. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Truffer believes warmer air temperatures play a role in glacial growth. One important factor is that it’s not just about a warming atmosphere. Between 2000 and 2010, Jakobshavn contributed the largest solid ice discharge in all of Greenland’s ice sheet, equivalent to nearly a millimeter to global sea rise. Direct quotes from an article published by NASA: “NASA research shows that Jakobshavn Glacier, which has been Greenland’s fastest-flowing and fastest-thinning glacier for the last 20 years, has made an unexpected about-face. We don’t know how to put the Jakobshavn results in context of the whole of Greenland until we get that extra data.”. New NASA data shows that Jakobshavn Glacier — Greenland's fastest-moving and fastest-thinning glacier for most of the 2000s — grew from 2018 into 2019, marking three consecutive years of growth. “I have to say I was a bit surprised by the observation,” admits the University of Alaska’s Martin Truffer, who uses ground-based radar to measure glacial movement. Greenland ; Qaasuitsup Municipality ; Ilulissat ... to the Unesco heritage trail but must be completed by a fly over as it is so huge that you can only realize it's size through a flight. In 2015, the glacier lost yet another large chunk of ice. The glacier in question is the Jakobshavn glacier, which was decreasing in size at a speed of 1.8 miles in length and 130 feet in depth per year, according to … The thickening gets smaller and smaller as you move inland.”. These images show the mass Greenland's Jakobshavn Glacier has gained from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19. “That doesn’t stop.”. However, only about five to 10 miles inland toward the center of Greenland, the glacier grows considerably thicker and plunges deeper below sea … Jakobshavn Isbrae is Greenland's largest outlet glacier, draining 6.5 percent of Greenland's ice sheet area. Summer is the season to watch for ice loss from the outlet glaciers lining the perimeter of Greenland. OMG, led by Principal Investigator Josh Willis, is one of several NASA missions dedicated to furthering our understanding of global sea level rise. A warming climate is taking its toll on Greenland and Antarctica glaciers, melting them from above and below the surface. It’s also why despite serious implications for Greenland’s near future ice loss, researchers caution the findings don’t mean we’ve found a magic climate reverse. At the edge of the Jakobshavn Glacier in western Greenland, bergs break off and pile up. According to Truffer, that spread depends on water temperature, too, which Willis points out will be revealed when the GRACE mission reveals its mass findings in the coming months. Jakobshavn drains only about seven percent of the entire ice sheet, so even if it were growing robustly, mass loss from the rest of the ice sheet would outweigh its slight expansion. Details about the physical transformation of over 200 of the island’s coastal glaciers are documented in a new study, in which the authors anticipate environmental impacts. Jakobshavn Glacier in western Greenland is notorious for being the world’s fastest-moving glacier. The Jakobshavn glacier has become a signature example of rapid change in the Earth's climate system. The colder water is not melting the ice from the front and underneath the glacier as quickly as the warmer water did. Although the melting rate has slowed, the glacier continues to contribute to sea level rise, ultimately losing more ice to the ocean than it gains from snow accumulation overall. “That’s how the warming of the ocean translates,” Khazendar says. And while it’s hard to argue with the data showing Jakobshavn grew, it’s unclear how widespread that may be and why. Ilulissat, formerly Jakobshavn or Jacobshaven, is the municipal seat and largest town of the Avannaata municipality in western Greenland, located approximately 350 km (220 mi) north of the Arctic Circle.With the population of 4,670 as of 2020, it is the third-largest city in Greenland, after Nuuk and Sisimiut.The city is home to almost as many sled-dogs as people. The scientists point to a recent influx of unusually cold water from the north Atlantic pushing into the Arctic. And as ice melts on the surface, the water drills through the ice sheet and comes down at the bottom of the glacier. Between 1991 and 2016, oceans warmed an average of 60 percent more per year than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated. “All this is an indicator of how sensitive glaciers are to ocean temperatures,” says the study’s lead author, Ala Khazendar, a glaciologist with OMG. Jakobshavn Glacier Danish: Jakobshavn Isbræ, also known as Ilulissat Glacier Greenlandic: Sermeq Kujalleq is a large outlet glacier in West Greenland. Water temperatures in the vicinity of the glacier are now colder than they have been since the mid-1980s. These images, produced using GLISTIN-A radar data as part of NASA's Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) mission, show how much mass the glacier gained from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19. (Read about a massive new iceberg in Antarctica. Glaciers like Jakobshavn extend out into the ocean, which explains how water temperature can impact their size and movement and may mean that the overall melting trend—while still happening—may be happening slower than we thought. Once known for its size, the Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland is now studied for its speed. So, while the overall melt on the continent isn’t on hold—and the overall ice balance of the ice sheet is still declining as the world warms—these cycles show that climate change isn’t necessarily creating impacts in a straight line. He thinks this type of ocean interaction could be widespread, from the Arctic to Antarctic. The Jakobshavn glacier … “The water is warming, too,” says Willis. “We found you also have to pay attention to what the ocean’s doing,” he says. Science Editor: NASA's Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) project has revealed Greenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier, the island’s biggest, is actually growing, at least at its edge. This rare footage has gone on record as the largest glacier calving event ever captured on film, by the 2016 Guiness Book of World Records. “The thinking was once glaciers start retreating, nothing's stopping them,” explains Josh Willis, an oceanographer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and OMG’s lead scientist. It also means that conditions might be a bit more complicated than previously thought for Greenland’s 200-plus glaciers throughout the continent-sized island. ), And to be clear, the Jakobshavn Glacier “is still contributing to global sea rise,” Khazendar says. It may sound a bit confusing, but that’s because the reality of climate change isn’t a straight line, say NASA researchers. Greenland, West Coast, Disko Bay, Ilulissat, icefjord listed as World heritage by UNESCO that is the mouth of the Sermeq Kujalleq Glacier (Jakobshavn Glacier) Iceberg aerial drone image - giant icebergs in Disko Bay on greenland floating in Ilulissat icefjord from melting glacier Sermeq Kujalleq Glacier, Jakobhavns Glacier. A reduction of ice loss in glaciers like Jakobshavn could mean less dangerous icebergs traveling south into the Atlantic, a menace to shipping routes—or it could mean that all the underwater calving could create more ice floes. It is located near the Greenlandic town of Ilulissat (colonial name in Danish: Jakobshavn) and ends at the sea in the Ilulissat Icefjord. When it does, the glacier is going to retreat even faster than it was before.”. There’s also evidence of warming temperatures moving the position of the snow line, which exposed more bare ice to the atmosphere and contributed to the melt. A few years ago, Christianson and a team of seven scientists traveled more than 1,000 miles from McMurdo Station, the main research base in Antarctica, to spend six weeks on Thwaites, traversing … esprit.smith@jpl.nasa.gov, This website is produced by the Earth Science Communications Team at, Site Editor: During that time, it was the single largest source of mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet. That's because, despite the fact that this particular glacier is growing, the whole Greenland ice sheet is still losing lots and lots of ice. Jakobshavn had periods of fast retreat in the 20th century, followed by thickening, then retreat, Khazendar says—but on average the air and sea are warming, and that means retreats are always going to be bigger than advances, adds Willis. Other Arctic glaciers may be undergoing similar growth. “What’s important to know is that these glaciers can react much more rapidly to short-term change in temperature. All rights reserved. Jakobshavn Glacier produces around 10% of all Greenland icebergs; that's around 4 billion tons of ice entering the sea. New NASA data shows that Jakobshavn Glacier — Greenland's fastest-moving and fastest-thinning glacier for most of the 2000s — grew for a third year in a row. The interaction of warm currents eroding ocean-facing glaciers already impacts Antarctica; 10 percent of its coastal glaciers are currently in retreat. If it melted completely, it could raise oceans about 25 feet (see what would happen if all the world’s ice melted). “So we know in the long run, this cooling is going to pass. During the 2000s, the Jakobshavn was the fastest flowing glacier on Greenland, moving at about 10.5 miles per year, reports the BBC’s Jonathan Amos. “Warmer air will cause more melting and more ice loss,” he says. A recent study team from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, determined that water transported to the area around the glacier by a key ocean current has been colder than it was prior to 2016, when the growth began. Much climate research studies the air. A Greenland glacier is growing. WASHINGTON — A major Greenland glacier that was one of the fastest shrinking ice and snow masses on Earth is growing again, a new NASA study finds. In 1997 Jakobshavn ended a decades-long period of stability as it began to thin, accelerate and eject ice into the sea at a rapid rate. The glacier grew 22 to 33 yards (20 to 30 meters) each year between 2016 and 2019. In research published Monday in Nature Geoscience, researchers report that since 2016, Jakobshavn’s ice has thickened slightly, thanks to relatively cool ocean waters at its base—which have caused the glacier to slow down its melt. OMG, led by Principal Investigator Josh Willis, is one of several NASA missions dedicated to furthering our understanding of global sea level rise. The results are published today in The Cryosphere. An ancient basin hidden beneath the Greenland ice sheet, discovered by researchers at the University of Bristol, may help explain the location, size and velocity of Jakobshavn … Willis says experts had thought the shape of the seafloor is what largely controlled a glacier’s retreat, because the ice can get stuck on undersea ridges that delay its movement. That suggests the ebb and flow of glaciers in a warming world may be more complicated and harder to predict than previously thought, says Willis. "Just a few weeks ago, we witnessed the spectacular calving event of Jakobshavn in Greenland which removed 12 square kilometers (4.6 square miles… Over 1,000 icebergs drifted below 48 degrees N in 2017, and they’re massive—the iceberg that took out the Titanic in 1912 originated here. This reverses the glacier’s 20-year trend of thinning and retreating. Why is Jakobshavn growing? Jakobshavn—Greenland’s fastest-moving glacier—is notorious for such losses; in 2014 the glacier shed kilometers of ice from its front. NASA's Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) project has revealed Greenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier, the island’s biggest, is actually growing, at … Holly Shaftel The glacier grew 22-33 yards (20-30 meters) each year between 2016 and 2019. Willis says these findings aren’t mutually exclusive to his most recent work. Researchers from the University of Washington and the German Space Agency (DLR) measured the dramatic speeds of the fast-flowing glacier in 2012 and 2013. Daniel Bailey. “There’s a whole laundry list of possible explanations,” he says. Jakobshavn Glacier, on Greenland's central western side, has been one of the island's largest contributor's to sea level rise, losing mass at an accelerating rate. Air temperature probably is important, and so is snowfall, adds Willis. At a depth of 820 feet, temperatures have dropped two degrees Celsius since 2014. So, while the glacier is growing, the ice sheet is still losing tremendous mass and contributing to sea-level rise. Throughout the Arctic, glaciers are shrinking, right? But the phase will switch again at some point and warmer waters will return. Areas with the most growth — about 33 yards (30 meters) — are shown in dark blue. Jakobshavn's growth did not come as a surprise to scientists. Science Editor: We didn’t think the ocean could be that important.”. Jakobshavn's growth did not come as a surprise to scientists. NASA’s OMG, which began in 2016 to track the ice’s seasonal ebb and flow to help predict global sea-level rise, now plans to determine if that hypothesis is accurate. Reviews. We used to think these ice sheets were pretty slow in reacting but this shows that you can have really fast reactions of glaciers to climate,” he says. Red areas represent thinning. That doesn't mean melting is over. Jakobshavn Glacier, Ilulissat: Address, Jakobshavn Glacier Reviews: 5/5. The more they melt, the higher sea levels rise. The water in Disko Bay, where the glacier meets the Atlantic, is now 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than it was just a few years ago, causing the Jakobshavn Glacier to grow. Write a review. This influx of cold waters isn't an isolated event: Thanks to a natural cycle in the Atlantic Ocean that switches back and forth between warm and cold about once every 20 years, cooler waters are penetrating far up the western coast of Greenland. Satellite data … “Over 90 percent of the heat that’s trapped from greenhouse gases are warming the oceans,” he says. From mineral mining to shipping lanes, fishing and strategic claims ranging from China to Russia, the change in the ice has a myriad of ripples. The glacier … “It remains to be seen if this is spreading or not.”. But because of what else is happening on the ice sheet, and the overall climate outlook, that’s not necessarily a good thing for global sea level. Greenland holds 10 percent of the world's freshwater in a deep freeze. 818-354-4269 It’s in fact akin to a pendulum. One way the team determines ice thickness is by flying above the glacier and using an airborne topographic mapper, which employs radar to scan and measure the ice cap at an accuracy of about three feet. It is one of the most dynamic glaciers in the world. NASA research shows that Jakobshavn Glacier, which has been Greenland's fastest-flowing and fastest-thinning glacier for the last 20 years, has made an unexpected about-face. A recent study team from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, determined that water transported to the area around the glacier by a key ocean current has been colder than it was prior to 2016, when the growth began. ILULISSAT, GREENLAND – JULY 24: The village of Ilulissat is seen near the icebergs that broke off from the Jakobshavn Glacier on July 24, 2013 in Ilulissat, Greenland. Helicopter is of cour... Read all 11 reviews. This mix of fresh and ocean water under the glacier drives melting and increases calving, the real hard-luck consequence of the findings. But we know that what we saw was caused by the ocean because the slowing and thickening is concentrated right where the ice meets the water. Some peers aren’t as sure. “You can see in the summer, Jakobshavn’s advancing, not slowing down,” Holland continues. Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is so remote that only 28 human beings have ever set foot on it. NASA – Largest glacier in Greenland is growing for third year in a row June 18, 2019 June 18, 2019 by Robert The height of Jakobshavn glacier in western Greenland has increased by as much as 30 meters (98 feet) per year in some areas. “But what’s surprising is the ocean; it actually reversed the retreat of this glacier. More information on OMG can be found here: Esprit Smith “We've found that that's not true.”. This year’s Arctic sea ice cover shrank to the second lowest extent since modern record-keeping began in the late 1970s, at 1.44 million square miles (3.74 million square kilometers). Later this year, NASA’s Grace Follow On mission, which tracks earth’s water in motion, will reveal how much mass Greenland has lost the last two years, which Willis says “may help us learn if this ocean effect is more widespread and could affect mass balance in a positive sense in less ice loss in previous years. NASA said Jakobshavn had been Greenland’s fastest-flowing and fastest-thinning glacier for the past 20 years. NASA Scientists Create First 3-D Model of Greenland Ice Sheet, WATCH: Using decades of observations, NASA scientists have created the first 3-D model of the Greenland ice sheet. The model shows how distinct layers of ice were laid down over time and suggests how today's ice sheet may respond to climate change. Video courtesy NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/03/one-part-of-greenland-ice-growing.html, see what would happen if all the world’s ice melted, Read about a massive new iceberg in Antarctica.