Articles | Volume 16, issue 10
Research article
13 Oct 2022
Research article |  | 13 Oct 2022

Observed mechanism for sustained glacier retreat and acceleration in response to ocean warming around Greenland

Evan Carnahan, Ginny Catania, and Timothy C. Bartholomaus

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Cited articles

Amundson, J. M., Fahnestock, M. A., Truffer, M., Brown, J., Brown, J., Lüthi, M. P., and Motyka, R. J.: Ice mélange dynamics and implications for terminus stability, Jakobshavn Isbræ, Greenland, J. Geophys. Res., 115, F01005,, 2010. a, b
Andrews, J. T., Milliman, J. D., Jennings, A. E., Rynes, N., and Dwyer, J.: Sediment Thicknesses and Holocene Glacial Marine Sedimentation Rates in Three East Greenland Fjords (ca. 68° N)1, J. Geol., 102, 669–683, 1994. a
Bartholomaus, T. C., Stearns, L. A., Sutherland, D. A., Shroyer, E. L., Nash, J. D., Walker, R. T., Catania, G. A., Felikson, D., Carroll, D., Fried, M. J., Noël, B. P. Y., and van den Broeke, M. R.: Contrasts in the response of adjacent fjords and glaciers to ice-sheet surface melt in West Greenland, Ann. Glaciol., 57, 25–38,, 2016. a, b, c, d
Bondzio, J. H., Morlighem, M., Seroussi, H., Kleiner, T., Rückamp, M., Mouginot, J., Moon, T., Larour, E. Y., and Humbert, A.: The mechanisms behind Jakobshavn Isbrae's acceleration and mass loss: A 3-D thermomechanical model study, Geophys. Res. Lett., 44, 6252–6260,, 2017. a, b, c, d, e
Catania, G. A., Stearns, L. A., Sutherland, D. A., Fried, M. J., Bartholomaus, T. C., Morlighem, M., Shroyer, E. L., and Nash, J. D.: Geometric Controls on Tidewater Glacier Retreat in Central Western Greenland, J. Geophys. Res.-Earth, 123, 2024–2038,, 2018. a, b, c, d, e, f, g
Short summary
The Greenland Ice Sheet primarily loses mass through increased ice discharge. We find changes in discharge from outlet glaciers are initiated by ocean warming, which causes a change in the balance of forces resisting gravity and leads to acceleration. Vulnerable conditions for sustained retreat and acceleration are predetermined by the glacier-fjord geometry and exist around Greenland, suggesting increases in ice discharge may be sustained into the future despite a pause in ocean warming.