Thursday, November 29, 2012

New paper shows W Greenland glacier retreat has decelerated about 50% over past 70 years

A new paper published in The Cryosphere examines historical length changes of glaciers in W Greenland from 1800-2010 and finds "the average rate of retreat was largest in the first half of the 20th century." Data from the paper shows the average rate of retreat peaked at 25 meters per year during the 1930's and has decelerated to about half that rate over the past 70 years. Note glaciers have been generally retreating for 20,000 years since the peak of the last major ice age, and since the end of the Little Ice Age in 1850.
Rate of length change in meters per year. Retreat rates accelerated after the end of the Little Ice Age in 1850 until the 1940's and have decelerated since.
 Legend from the paper: (b) Rate of length change (ma−1) averaged over 10-yr intervals in the period 1800–2010 for each of the glaciers (light coloured lines) and their average rate of length change (red).

The Cryosphere, 6, 1339-1343, 2012

Brief communication "Historical glacier length changes in West Greenland"

P. W. Leclercq1, A. Weidick2, F. Paul3, T. Bolch3,4, M. Citterio2, and J. Oerlemans1
1IMAU, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
2GEUS, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Copenhagen, Denmark
3Department of Geography, University of Zürich-Irchel, Zürich, Switzerland
4Institute for Cartography, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany

 Abstract. Past glacier fluctuations provide insight into glacier dynamics, climate change, and the contribution of glaciers to sea-level rise. Here, the length fluctuations since the 19th century of 18 local glaciers in West and South Greenland are presented, extending and updating the study by Weidick (1968). The studied glaciers all showed an overall retreat with an average of 1.2 ± 0.2 km over the 20th century, indicating a general rise of the equilibrium line along the west coast of Greenland during the last century. Furthermore, the average rate of retreat was largest in the first half of the 20th century.

 Final Revised Paper (PDF, 1186 KB)   Discussion Paper (TCD)   


  1. This is incredible. I am sure you watch your analytics, but just so you know, you are my second favorite global warming site to read. Keep it up! You do an incredible job in terms of the quality of the posts you share with us!

  2. you are amazing man (or woman as the case may be). we really appreciate you keeping us posted!

  3. Hear! Hear! agree with two other comments. Thanks for the links, Pity so many good papers are behind paywalls. People working in small private companies or on their own or maybe retired can not access all these journals and can not afford the $35 or even $50 to get a copy. Academics get paid to research and have access to libraries but many do not subscribe to some of the relevant journals. I believe all papers from public funded institutions should be open access then there maybe there less junk as publishing of papers would be part of department budgets rather than be disguised in funding of Institution libraries. I feel there will be a net saving for the public.