Most important glacier in northern hemisphere growing rapidly, NASA study shows

Greenland’s biggest glacier, the Jakobshavn glacier, began advancing rapidly (almost 26 feet per day!) in 2016. (Includes video)

Airborne altimetry and satellite imagery show that the glacier is advancing about 1.8 miles and thickening nearly 130 feet annually, according to a study published  in Nature Geoscience. That’s an average of almost 26 feet (7.93 m) per day!

Location of Jakobshavn Glacier

The study’s authors link these changes to concurrent cooling of ocean waters in Disko Bay, where Jakobshavn hits the ocean. Temperatures in the upper levels of those waters have dropped to levels not seen in years, and now stand 3.6 degrees cooler than in the mid 1980s.

“That was kind of a surprise,” said Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland ice and climate scientist Jason Box, who was not part of the study.

Jakobshavn is “arguably the most important Greenland glacier because it discharges the most ice in the northern hemisphere,” said Box. “For all of Greenland, it is king.”

You’d think this would be wonderful news, but the authors try to downplay the glacier’s advance by saying it is likely a temporary phenomenon caused by “a natural cyclical cooling of North Atlantic waters.”

They maintain that the advance coincides with a flip of the North Atlantic Oscillation — a natural and temporary cooling and warming of parts of the ocean that is like a distant cousin to El Nino in the Pacific, but that in the long run, man-made climate change will prevail.

Funny, isn’t it, how glacial retreat is a catastrophe caused by humans, but glacial advance is caused by “natural cyclical cooling”?

Thanks to James Stoffaire and Benjamin Napier for these links

13 thoughts on “Most important glacier in northern hemisphere growing rapidly, NASA study shows”

  1. It is caused by a natural cooling cycle jst as the losses were only due to warming on the other side of this cycle but to the same people that was global warming only responcible. What are they going to say when the rest of the Actic starts to follow this?

  2. This is permanent as we head into the next ice age. There is nothing temporary about this one. The reason for growing glaciers is due to increasing snowfall on the glaciers and at high elevations. Sea ice grows because of cooling North Atlantic waters. I think they have it mixed up here. They are also pretty ignorant about the real reason for these growing glaciers.

  3. I find it amazing that a “scientist” would not know that the temperature of water that ice sits on affects how fast it melts. That he wouldn’t realize that dropping an ice cube in a glass with room temperature mixer causes the ice to melt faster than dropping it into a glass with chilled mixer.

    I also find it absolutely amazing that the same “scientist” can make a statement that colder water at the end of the glacier can affect the glacier many kilometers inland and make it grow thicker. I really am surprised by such a statement since it really doesn’t seem to make sense at all since glacier thickness, I would expect grows from the top down, not the bottom up..

    • I really am surprised by such a statement since it really doesn’t seem to make sense at all since glacier thickness, I would expect grows from the top down, not the bottom up.

      Oh come now Tom O, you’re using common sense. Adapt a computer algorithm and climate model to output exactly what you want and it’ll show you that glaciers do, in fact, grow from the bottom up.

  4. The temp of the sea at the glacier’s tongue may have little to do with the recent advance.
    This may have more to do with mass balances and rates of flow further up.
    One of the biggest non-polar glaciers is the Taku Glacier, just east from Juneau, Alaska.
    Its recent history would be interesting.

  5. There are scientists who understands what they are doing and those who don’t. The last ones turn their faces to politicians to get a foundation for their scientific work.

  6. Doing my night time google browsing two nights ago…I woke the husband up to tell him NASA quietly said the Greenland glacier was growing.
    Believe me, I would much prefer it and other glacier to just maintain…not grow…I really don’t want an “ice age” to hold up and say “see, we told you so”

  7. “Sometimes the warm speeds up the melt…and other times it slows it down”


    I’m not with NASA. I’m not even a scientist but, I’m going to bet that “the warm” rarely “slows down” any melt…of any ice, anywhere…even great big glaciers in Greenland.

    I would venture to say that if the glacier is growing, the melt isn’t slowing down, it is reversing.

    If NASA did get to the moon and hit golf and drive dune buggies, the intellectual remnants of that lot from yesteryear hasn’t filtered down to this current crew.
    Can you imagine unleashing these buffoons on space travel?

    “One small step for man…one giant…Hang on, think I left the iron on!”

  8. Robert, why does the mainstream media talk of all the glaciers that are melting the world over???

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