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A Century of Stability of Avannarleq and Kujalleq Glaciers, West Greenland, Explained Using High-Resolution Airborne Gravity and Other Data.

  • Author(s): An, L;
  • Rignot, E;
  • Mouginot, J;
  • Millan, R
  • et al.

The evolution of Greenland glaciers in a warming climate depends on their depth below sea level, flow speed, surface melt, and ocean-induced undercutting at the calving front. We present an innovative mapping of bed topography in the frontal regions of Sermeq Avannarleq and Kujalleq, two major glaciers flowing into the ice-choked Torssukatak Fjord, central west Greenland. The mapping combines a mass conservation algorithm inland, multibeam echo sounding data in the fjord, and high-resolution airborne gravity data at the ice-ocean transition where other approaches have traditionally failed. We obtain a reliable, precision (±40 m) solution for bed topography across the ice-ocean boundary. The results reveal a 700 m deep fjord that abruptly ends on a 100-300 m deep sill along the calving fronts. The shallow sills explain the presence of stranded icebergs, the resilience of the glaciers to ocean-induced undercutting by warm Atlantic water, and their remarkable stability over the past century.

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