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!
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