Researchers Attribute Thinning of Greenland Glacier to Ocean Warming Preceded by Atmospheric Changes


The study, whose lead author was David Holland, director of the Center for Atmosphere Ocean Science, part of New York University s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, suggests that ocean temperatures may be more important for glacier flow than previously thought.

Seafloor elevations (in meters) on the southwestern Greenland continental shelf. The yellow rectangle indicates the location of Disko Bay and Jakobshavn ocean-ice fjord. Reprinted with permission from Nature Geoscience.
Seafloor elevations (in meters) on the southwestern Greenland continental shelf. The yellow rectangle indicates the location of Disko Bay and Jakobshavn ocean-ice fjord. Reprinted with permission from Nature Geoscience.

The sudden thinning in 1997 of Jakobshavn Isbræ, one of Greenland’s largest glaciers, was caused by subsurface ocean warming, according to research published in the journal Nature Geoscience. The research team traces these oceanic shifts back to changes in the atmospheric circulation in the North Atlantic region.

The study, whose lead author was David Holland, director of the Center for Atmosphere Ocean Science, part of New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, suggests that ocean temperatures may be more important for glacier flow than previously thought.

The project also included scientists from the Wallops Flight Facility, Canada’s Memorial University, the Danish Meteorological Institute, and the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources.

Jakobshavn Isbræ, a large outlet glacier feeding a deep-ocean fjord on Greenland’s west coast, went from slow thickening to rapid thinning beginning in 1997. Several explanations have been put forward to explain this development. 500

Cannot serve request to /content/nyu/en/about/news-publications/news/2008/september/researchers_attribute_thinning.html on this server


ApacheSling/2.2 (Day-Servlet-Engine/4.1.52, Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM 1.7.0_80, Linux 2.6.32-696.6.3.el6.centos.plus.x86_64 amd64)