Geodetic measurements reveal short-term changes of glacial mass near Jakobshavn Isbræ (Greenland) from 2007 to 2017

Bao Zhang*, Enze Zhang, Lin Liu, Shfaqat Abbas Khan, Tonie van Dam, Yibin Yao, Michael Bevis, Veit Helm

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The Global Positioning System (GPS) and Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) provide important geodetic datasets to study glacial mass change. Applying the multichannel singular spectral analysis to the GPS-measured vertical and horizonal crustal displacement and GRACE-derived vertical displacement near Jakobshavn Isbræ (JI) in western Greenland from 2007 to 2017, we reconstruct the short-term loading displacements due to ice mass changes. Both the vertical and east displacements show strong seasonal variability. They also reveal three episodes of transient displacements: downward and eastward motion from late 2007 to around 2010, sustained upward and westward motion from 2010 to early 2013, and downward and eastward motion till late 2016. We also forward model the seasonal and transient displacements caused by surface mass balance (SMB) and glacier dynamics. Our model agrees well with the geodetic observations and provides quantitative insights into the contribution from SMB and ice dynamics to the ice mass changes. We find that SMB is the dominant contributor to the seasonal and transient displacements at three out of four GPS sites (AASI, ILUL, and QEQE). While, at the fourth GPS site (KAGA) that is closest to the glacier, the contributions to the transient displacements from SMB and glacier dynamics are comparable. The forward modeling also suggests that the dynamic mass change in the JI catchment underwent strong seasonal variations and these variations correlated more with the seasonal retreat and advance of the calving front than with the changes of glacial velocities. Our altimetry results reveal that the frontal portion of JI catchment lost 34 Gt in 2012 and this loss of ice declined to only 11 Gt in 2016 due to widespread thickening along the main flowline.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Pages (from-to)216-226
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Jakobshavn Isbræ
  • Geodetic measurements
  • Short-term ice mass change
  • Dynamic thickening


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