Surveys in Geophysics

, Volume 35, Issue 6, pp 1459–1480 | Cite as

Assessing the Current Evolution of the Greenland Ice Sheet by Means of Satellite and Ground-Based Observations

  • A. GrohEmail author
  • H. Ewert
  • M. Fritsche
  • A. Rülke
  • R. Rosenau
  • M. Scheinert
  • R. Dietrich


The present study utilises different satellite and ground-based geodetic observations in order to assess the current evolution of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS). Satellite gravimetry data acquired by the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment are used to derive ice-mass changes for the period from 2003 to 2012. The inferred time series are investigated regarding long-term, seasonal and interannual variations. Laser altimetry data acquired by the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) are utilised to solve for linear and seasonal changes in the ice-surface height and to infer independent mass-change estimates for the entire GIS and its major drainage basins. We demonstrate that common signals can be identified in the results of both sensors. Moreover, the analysis of a Global Positioning System (GPS) campaign network in West Greenland for the period 1995–2007 allows us to derive crustal deformation caused by glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) and by present-day ice-mass changes. ICESat-derived elastic crustal deformations are evaluated comparing them with GPS-observed uplift rates which were corrected for the GIA effect inferred by model predictions. Existing differences can be related to the limited resolution of ICESat. Such differences are mostly evident in dynamical regions such as the Disko Bay region including the rapidly changing Jakobshavn Isbræ, which is investigated in more detail. Glacier flow velocities are inferred from satellite imagery yielding an accelerated flow from 1999 to 2012. Since our GPS observations cover a period of more than a decade, changes in the vertical uplift rates can also be investigated. It turns out that the increased mass loss of the glacier is also reflected by an accelerated vertical uplift.


Greenland Ice Sheet GRACE ICESat GPS 



This work was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within the Priority Programme SPP1257 “Mass Transport and Mass Distribution in the Earth System”. Our spherical harmonic analyses were performed using the freely available software archive SHTOOLS ( The GIA model predictions were calculated using the software package SELEN (Spada and Stocchi 2007). All figures were generated by means of the freely available Generic Mapping Tools (Wessel and Smith 1998). We gratefully acknowledge the comments by two anonymous reviewers which helped to improve the original manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Groh
    • 1
    Email author
  • H. Ewert
    • 1
  • M. Fritsche
    • 1
  • A. Rülke
    • 1
    • 2
  • R. Rosenau
    • 1
  • M. Scheinert
    • 1
  • R. Dietrich
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Planetare GeodäsieTechnische Universität DresdenDresdenGermany
  2. 2.Bundesamt für Kartographie und GeodäsieFrankfurt am MainGermany

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