Tidewater glacier velocity and mass balance are known to be highly responsive to terminus position change. Yet it remains challenging for ice flow models to reproduce observed ice margin changes. Here, using the Ice Sheet System Model (ISSM; Larour et al., 2012), we simulate the ice velocity and thickness changes of Upernavik Isstrom (north-western Greenland) by prescribing a collection of 27 observed terminus positions spanning 164 years (18492012). The simulation shows increased ice velocity during the 1930s, the late 1970s and between 1995 and 2012 when terminus retreat was observed along with negative surface mass balance anomalies. Three distinct mass balance states are evident in the reconstruction: (1849-1932) with near zero mass balance, (1932-1992) with ice mass loss dominated by ice dynamical flow, and (1998-2012), when increased retreat and negative surface mass balance anomalies led to mass loss that was twice that of any earlier period. Over the multi-decadal simulation, mass loss was dominated by thinning and acceleration responsible for 70% of the total mass loss induced by prescribed change in terminus position. The remaining 30% of the total ice mass loss resulted directly from prescribed terminus retreat and decreasing surface mass balance. Although the method can not explain the cause of glacier retreat, it enables the reconstruction of ice flow and geometry during 1849-2012. Given annual or seasonal ob-served terminus front positions, this method could be a useful tool for evaluating simulations investigating the effect of calving laws.
Copyright: Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.