Jakobshavn Isbræ, West Greenland: Flow velocities and tidal interaction of the front area from 2004 field observations

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Abstract

[1] During the summer of 2004, the front area of the Jakobshavn Isbræ was monitored using a geodetic-photogrammetric survey with temporarily coincident precise observations of local ocean tides in the Disko Bay close to Ilulissat. The geodetic and photogrammetric observations were conducted at the southern margin of the glacier front. The largest observed horizontal flow velocities are in the central part of the front with values up to 45 m/d. This is a factor of 2 greater than the average velocities at the front area observed in the last century. Our new observations confirm previous estimates of an acceleration of glacier flow during the last decade. The photogrammetric survey provided flow trajectories for 4000 surface points with a time resolution of 30 min. These flow trajectories were used to compare the vertical motion of the glacier with the observed tides. The existence of a free-floating glacier tongue in 2004 was confirmed by these data. However, it occupied only a small belt, of at most a few 100 m width, in the central part of the glacier front. Horizontal motion did not appear to depend on the tidal phase, unlike some of the fast-moving ice streams of West Antarctica.

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